Exploring Ireland’s energy future

Ireland has agreed to cut emissions from electricity generation, buildings and transport by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. But shifting to a sustainable energy system requires both political and societal support.  An easy way to visually explore energy options was needed.

Real World Visuals provided the visual interface for the Ireland 2050 web-tool, part of an educational project developed and coordinated by The Energy Institute in Ireland.  The web-tool allows anyone to access and explore different future electricity and energy supply and demand options for the country.

We believe in empowering people to participate in the discussion about Ireland’s energy system; by knowing how it works, what it takes to have a secure and stable supply of energy to people’s homes and businesses, whether it is fair and competitive, how it has developed over time, and how it could continue to develop with greater efficiency and synergy with our community and our environment.
— 'About' section of Ireland 2050 website

As different options are selected the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is shown as a real volume (m3 per second).  From the beginning a key part of the brief was to allow the tool to be used on smart-phones and tablets as well as conventional computer screens.  

Making a tool like this work on such a wide variety of devices imposes quite strict constraints. We were very limited, for instance, in what we could do in 3D - a library such as Three.js won’t work on all devices, many of which have no 3D hardware and can’t handle WebGL. Because 3D is so important to the way we make quantities visible, we built our own very simple system for generating isometric diagrams - a simplified 3D engine.

The excellent Ireland 2050 website provides detailed yet accessible information on the past and present energy generation and use in Ireland, as well as the My2050 tool and the specialist Irish 2050 Calculator.

The My2050 tool can be explored here.  To see how it works on smaller screens open in a new browser window.