U.S. National Science Foundation Expeditions in Computing for Computational Decarbonization of Societal Infrastructures at Mesoscales

We envision a future decarbonized world that will generate energy from a mix of mostly carbon-free, but volatile, energy sources. This transition is poised to alter the foundation of modern society by transforming energy from a resource that is largely centralized, costly, and dirty, but highly stable, to one that is largely distributed, cheap, and clean, but highly intermittent and variable.

In this future world, clean energy will be plentiful at times, but precious at others, making coordination and orchestration of energy’s supply and demand critical for maintaining quality of life, sustaining the global economy, and ensuring energy availability during times of scarcity.

Importantly, all of society will need to make a fundamental shift to adapt to this future by exploiting multiple dimensions of energy-flexibility — the degree to which a system can modulate its energy usage across time, space, and uses — to consume low-carbon energy when and where it is available.

NSF CoDec will foster and develop the nascent field of computational decarbonization, which focuses on optimizing carbon-efficiency to reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions—the amortized sum of operational and embodied carbon—of computing and societal infrastructure using computational and data-driven techniques.