About the Energy Lab

The world’s energy consumption is predicted to grow by 56% in the next 25 years*. As the demand for energy swells, the stores of fossil fuels we currently depend on are dwindling and becoming more costly to obtain. The burning of these fossil fuels also discharges carbon, which has long-lasting negative effects on the environment. For these reasons, researchers and engineers are working to find efficient and cost effective ways to harness energy from renewable sources like solar and wind. 

In the Energy Lab, you’ll design a city’s renewable energy system by analyzing the same data as the experts. Just like these energy engineers, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each energy source, assess the availability in that area, and consider the needs of the location.

About the Energy Lab

Local potential energy maps will help you design a renewable energy system.

From NOVA's Energy Lab

Design a Renewable Future

The Challenge

You’ll be presented with energy profiles for five different cities across the United States.  Based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), city officials, and local utility companies, these profiles will give you a snap shot of the city’s current energy needs and resources. You’ll be given a budget and a renewable energy production target. Your challenge will be to design a system that meets this target as cheaply as possible.


Depending on a location’s resources, your renewable energy system design may include solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass power. To help inform your design, you’ll study energy potential maps created for NOVA Labs by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Using sliders, you can select the types of energy you want and how much of each you want. As you move the sliders, you’ll instantly see how your choices impact your budget.

Test your system

When you have designed your system, you can test it against yearly historical data.  During the test you’ll be given feedback and the opportunity to redesign your system. 

Power up 

When the test is complete, you’ll power up your renewable energy system and find out if you met your production goals. Your system simulation is powered by real-time weather and solar data captured directly from NREL stations located in each city.

About the Energy Lab

You'll see instant feedback as you design your system.

From NOVA's Energy Lab


The Energy Lab also includes eight short videos about what energy is, how we can produce and store it more efficiently, and what our renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels are. These videos can be viewed in the Energy Lab Video Quizzes or in our NOVA Labs Video Library.

Are you ready to Design a Renewable Future?  Play the Energy Lab.

*Projected by The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)