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Rules and Guidelines for Energy Challenge

by Jackie Carpenter, director of Energy 21

This game was played one evening at the Thurles conference by several dozen of the participants. It proved very popular. Players remarked afterwards that it had made them think about the choices involved in planning a country's energy future

This version of the Energy Challenge aims to get the players to look in a light-hearted way at possible energy balances for a hypothetical future when the Republic of Ireland is powered by 100% renewable energy. Whilst it is not meant to be technical or detailed (for example it does not ask them to go into issues of power or to carry out an economic assessment), it demonstrates a process which may need to be carried out "for real" sooner than we think.

It is a team game and part of the exercise is for the players to co-operate and agree on each issue. If they need help with any aspect of the exercise there will be a facilitator on hand to answer their questions. The challenge to each team is to place on the wall a poster it is proud of that depicts how its 100% renewable energy solution would work.


Your team's aim is to produce a renewable energy scenario for the Republic of Ireland, based on an assumption that ALL energy must come from renewable resources. You must produce a poster that details your scenario and these will later be put on display. You may wish to go through your sheet personally in advance of the programmed exercise, calculating some numbers and filling them in pencil, ready to discuss with your team.


1. Plan the use of your time and which member of the team is going to carry out which task. You may wish to identify an "artist" to make an early start on the presentation. You could also appoint a "recorder" to jot down your ideas and assumptions and a "calculating officer" to do the sums. However everyone is encouraged to participate in the formulation of the final scenario.

2. Go through the exercise sheet filling in the boxes as you go. You can do this individually and then discuss your results and fill in a team sheet, or you can go straight for the team sheet. At the end of this you will have decided how much energy the Republic of Ireland will use and how it will be generated. This isn't just about developing enough renewable energy to meet the energy demands of today. Energy efficiency and energy conservation can be utilised to reduce the actual amount of energy that is required. Come up with some ideas and figures, but don't be too serious!

3. Market your scenario. Be dramatic! Be positive! Make your posters outstanding, inspired and eye-catching!


  • The scenario must be based on 100% renewable energy.
  • We would like you to work in terawatt-hours (TWh). One unit of electricity, as shown on your electricity bill, is one kilowatt-hour. A terawatt-hour is a thousand million kilowatt-hours i.e. a thousand million units.
  • Use pencil to fill in the boxes so you can go back and change your figures as the ideas develop.
  • The data in grey boxes is for your help and information. It is only meant to act as a guide to the technologies available today. If you feel that there can or should be great advancements in these energy sources, or completely new technologies, feel free to add creative ideas. Try to justify this in your final presentation.
  • Consider why have you chosen your particular figures. What will be the costs and benefits to Ireland? What problems might you encounter and what related issues might you need to tackle? How can your ideas lead to more jobs and a vibrant local economy? Think about the role of renewable energy as a positive force for regeneration and change. Try to make the idea of 100% renewable energy as realistic as possible. Record three or four key bullet points for your team.
  • Make a display that will sell your ideas to the other delegates. This will include the filled-in team sheet and one flipchart sheet. You may lay this out as you wish. Have fun!


Look at the current land use and population statistics for the Republic of Ireland and then decide what the values will become in your future scenario.

ENERGY USE (Figures from CSO)

Energy is currently delivered to the consumer as (figures in TWh/yr):

The current energy split between the following sectors is (figures in TWh/yr):

Now plan the demand in your future scenario. Think about satisfying energy; don't worry about power.

Our team's future energy split between the following sectors will be (figures in TWh/yr):


Which renewable energy technologies will your scenario employ? If you feel that the Republic of Ireland can produce more energy than it needs, you could export the surplus. Go through quickly to get a feeling for the possibilities, then your team needs to agree a figure for each white box.

Now put your totals for each kind of energy into the table below. If your figures do not add up you will have to go back and reassess the demand, production or imports/exports accordingly.

The Energy Challenge was devised by Energy 21 ( Energy 21 can provide facilitators and background data.

This is one of almost 50 chapters and articles in the 336-page large format book, Before the Wells Run Dry. Copies of the book are available for £9.95 from Green Books.

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