Energy data in action

Data from the Department of Energy's OpenEI platform is getting mashed up and put to use.

One of the Department of Energy’s flagship open government initiatives, Open Energy Information (OpenEI), was on display at the recent National Science Festival. Ryan McKeel, an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, talks about how OpenEI provides access to data, models and tools in the following clip:

OpenEI is “open” in any number of important ways, including open source and open linked data, as Debbie Brodt-Giles, the OpenEI project leader, notes in an Amazon case study (OpenEI is hosted on Amazon’s Web Services platform). “Key platform software for OpenEI includes Apache, Semantic MediaWiki, MySQL, and OpenLink Virtuoso,” she wrote. “Customization to meet the specific needs of OpenEI has been performed primarily through PHP. Common deployment and operations for OpenEI have been automated using various AWS command-line tools.”

As McKeel pointed out in the interview, a recent mashathon pulled all of that open data into a mashup that shows residents the cost of energy, usage rates and potential savings around the country. The mashup also provides access to incentive information. For instance, the incentive programs in the District of Columbia are all available with a click. That addresses a concern Micah Sifry articulated: people need a way to take personal action when they are presented with information.

Chris Davis, a Ph.D. researcher at Delft University of Technology, took an in-depth look at the applications and insights that can be mined from Department of Energy data. “One of the points I wish to get across in this exercise, is that it’s not just an analysis of renewable energy trends, but rather it’s an analysis of U.S. Government data, grabbed live from a wiki that has been opened up to public contributions,” he wrote. “This is truly revolutionary, although perhaps under-appreciated or unnoticed by many.”


tags: , , ,

Get the O’Reilly Data Newsletter

Stay informed. Receive weekly insight from industry insiders.

  • Alex, thanks for your thoughtful, researched article. We enjoy increasing momentum in opening up energy data in the U.S. and around the world, facilitated with, and it has been great working with the folks on shared data challenges. We are growing apps that use this data, for instance the Low Emission Development Strategies toolkit to help share energy knowledge and best practices around the world.



    P.S. Great to meet Shadow at the festival :)

  • Alex,

    Thanks for the coverage of some of the work we’ve done here at TU Delft. You may be interested to know that we have just published Industrial Ecology 2.0 which is available as free download from Wiley.

    In this paper, we build upon many of the ideas covered by O’Reilly, such as the architecture of participation, Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0, and then aggregate examples of these trends into a vision of what’s happening at a larger scale. We firmly believe that one of the biggest challenges in dealing with sustainability is not just the complexity of the issues, but also our present inability to efficiently organize and navigate information related to these challenges. We are quite encouraged by O’Reilly’s call to “work on stuff that matters”, and believe that ICT can play a pivotal, yet still largely unrealized role in tackling these issues.


    Chris Davis, Igor Nikolic and Gerard P.J. Dijkema
    Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
    Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management