Energy Excursions

Design Challenge: Filling the Power Gap

"Take an energy excursion exploring the capabilities of various technologies to satisfy increasing power demand if we transition to an all-electric world."

Summary: 

This lesson seeks to provide a thorough analysis for students on what technologies may be able to fill the power gap if we transition to an all-electric world. By transitioning to an all-electric world, we could potentially eliminate the use of petroleum (gasoline and diesel); however, our electrical power demand would sky-rocket. In order to meet such a potential future demand we must look towards other energy sources to supply our power needs, such as natural gas, nuclear, and renewables. This lesson provides a numerical approach, using comparisons of energy production (measured in BTU’s) in 2020 with a 2040 scenario to explore how satisfying our increased demand must be an integrative approach, as one single energy technology cannot step up and satisfy the demand alone. Students will be asked to read from tables to quantitatively assess which technologies may or may not have the potential capacity to satisfy demand. Filling the Power Gap serves as the final lesson in the Energize the Future Course, which takes a comprehensive approach to energy and electricity supply and demand historically and throughout the future, integrating various academic disciplines.

Learning Outcomes:  

  • Students will be introduced to what it means to transition to an all-electrical world and what changes we are likely to see 
  • Students will analyze if natural gas can satisfy the increased power demand in an all-electric world 
    • Can natural gas fill the power gap? 
  • Students will analyze if nuclear can satisfy the increased power demand in an all-electric world 
    • Can nuclear power fill the power gap? 
  • Students will analyze if wind power can satisfy the increased power demand in an all-electric world 
    • Can wind fill the power gap? 
  • Students will analyze if solar power can satisfy the increased power demand in an all-electric world 
    • Can solar fill the power gap? 
TEKS Standards
College Board Units and Topics