Topic outline

  • Overview

    Energy Forecast Modelling

    Energy Forecast Modeling

    Models of wind, shale gas, and coal development for the entire study area have been created to predict potential future energy development and impacts to natural resources within the Appalachians. Models and data from all development projections populate a web-based mapping tool to help inform regional landscape planning decisions.

    The energy forecast web-based mapping visualization tool of this energy assessment combines multiple layers of data on energy development trends and important natural resource and ecosystem services, to give a more comprehensive picture of what potential energy development could look like in the Appalachians. The tool shows where energy development is most likely to occur and indicates areas where such development may intersect with other significant values like intact forests, important streams, and vital ecological services such as drinking water supplies.

  • Introduction

    Welcome to the Energy Forecast Modeling online course.

    This online course is going to cover the Appalachian LCC funded research project, Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC, which was completed by The Nature Conservancy. This project will assist policy makers, land management agencies, and industry in assessing potential future energy development and how those areas may overlap with biological and ecological resources. The information and tools from this research is intended to inform planning decisions that can effectively avoid, minimize, or offset impacts from energy development to important natural areas. This research will inform discussions on how to meet immediate and future energy needs while sustaining the health of natural systems by providing vital information to policy makers, land management agencies, industry, and the public to identify potential future energy development and how that development may intersect with biological and ecological values.

    Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC, uses models that combine data on energy development trends and identifies where these may intersect with important natural resource and ecosystem services to give a more comprehensive picture of what potential energy development could look like in the Appalachians.

    Models of wind, shale gas, and coal development for the entire study area were created to predict potential future energy development and impacts to natural resources within the Appalachians. Models and data from all development projections populate a web-based mapping tool to help inform regional landscape planning decisions. The web-based mapping tool allows policy makers, land management agencies, industries, and others to see where development may likely occur and intersect with important natural values to inform regional landscape planning decisions. Ultimately this information is intended to support dialogue and conservation on how to effectively avoid, minimize, and offset impacts from energy development to important natural areas and the valuable services they provide.

    Course Description:

    This course will explain the science behind the development of the tool, demonstrate to users how-to use the web map application, provide examples of how this information can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

    This course consists of an introduction and 6 additional modules. Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already have an understanding of the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already have experience using the Energy Forecast model web application, you could skip Module 2.

    In Modules 2-4, two different levels of instruction are provided. The first level is known as the manager level. The focus is to provide an understanding of how to use the tool and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis. The second level, known as the technical level, focuses on showing participants how-to use the tool and the actual process of completing analysis using additional software and data to strategically plan conservation actions. 

    Course Objectives:

    Upon completion of this course, users will be able to:

    • Identify areas at risk for energy development using the Energy Tool web application.
    • Apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
    • Develop a good understanding of the science behind the tools and their appropriate use.
    • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the tools to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

    Course Requirements:

    Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

    Computer Requirements:

    You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials. If you do not already have Adobe Reader on your computer, click on the link below to access Adobe's website and download it for free.

    ArcGIS is needed for participants who plan to complete the technical level of Module 4. Alternative GIS software can be used, however, directions are providing using ArcGIS.  Manager level users can complete the course using their internet browser of choice.

    Course Prerequisites:

    There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the Modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules. Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module. 

    • This topic

      Module 1

      Module 1 - The Science behind Energy Forecast Model

      Objective:

      The objective of this module is to explain the need to address energy development within the Appalachian LCC region and explain the science behind the Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC (aka Energy Forecast Model) project.

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should review the information in the Course Introduction module. No experience with the Energy Forecast Model is required. 

      Introduction:

      The Appalachians are a landscape filled with globally-significant biological diversity and cultural resources that provides essential benefits to large cities and surrounding human communities.The region is also rich in energy resources that meet national and regional demands for energy. As wind, natural gas, and oil energy development expand along with traditional coal, there is an increasing need for research to inform discussions on how to meet immediate and future energy needs while sustaining the health of natural systems. To help address this need, the Appalachian LCC awarded a grant to The Nature Conservancy to assess current and future energy development across the entire region.

      Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC uses models that combine data on energy development trends and identifies where these may intersect with important natural resource and ecosystem services to give a more comprehensive picture of what potential energy development could look like in the Appalachians. A final report from the study outlines the major findings of the potential footprint from coal, wind, and natural gas development. A web-based mapping tool allows policy makers, land management agencies, industries, and others to see where development may likely occur and intersect with important natural values to inform regional landscape planning decisions. Ultimately this information is intended to support dialogue and conservation on how to effectively avoid, minimize, and offset impacts from energy development to important natural areas and the valuable services they provide.

      Video:

      This presentation by Thomas Minney, Director of The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia, provides a detailed overview of the Appalachian LCC funded project "Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachians." The study and online data visualization tool developed from this research are intended to inform discussions among conservation agencies and organizations, industry, policy makers, regulators and the public on how to protect essential natural resources while realizing the benefits of increased domestic energy production.

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • The Appalachian region is a global biodiversity hotspot that is also rich in energy resources.  Nearly 7.6 million acres within the Appalachian region have a high probability of energy development. 
      • In this study funded by the Appalachian LCC, The Nature Conservancy assessed current and future energy development across the entire region. Major results indicate that nearly 7.6 million acres of new energy-related development could occur in the region by 2035.
      • The Energy Forecast Model consists of three components: final report which summarizes modelling techniques, web based data visualization tool, and model data available for download.
      • Models developed for the Energy Forecast Model show where energy development is likely to occur.
      • The purpose of this project is to:

        • Identify areas across the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) most likely to undergo changes in land cover as a result of the development of wind, shale gas, and coal resources.
        • Show how these areas intersect with places likely to support important habitat for species conservation, and ecosystem services such as drinking water and recreation.
      • This study is intended to provide the data and information needed to start productive and proactive discussion about how best to sustain healthy natural systems, meet the region’s energy needs, and meet the needs of people.

      Additional Resources:

      Previous studies that assessed future energy development potential and were part of The Nature Conservancy's Development by Design  - http://applcc.org/conservation-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1/copy_of_foundational-research

      Energy Forecast Model Data Access Page - http://applcc.org/plan-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1/data-access

      App LCC Energy Forecast Model Project Information Page: http://applcc.org/conservation-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1

      Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC Report: http://applcc.org/conservation-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1/assessing-future-energy-development-across-the-appalachian-lcc

      Energy Forecast Model Products and Tools Page - http://applcc.org/conservation-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1/copy_of_products-and-tools

      Energy Forecast Model Awareness and Outreach Page - http://applcc.org/conservation-design/gis-planning/gis-tools-resources/assessing-future-energy-development-1/copy_of_awareness-and-outreach

    • Module 2

      Modeul 2 - How to Use Energy Forecast Model

      Objective:

      The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with the Energy Tool Web Mapping Application and utilization of the energy tool data within the ArcGIS platform. 

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should be familiar with the “Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian” research project. If you are not familiar with this project, the information is covered in Module 1 of this course. You should complete Module 1 before proceeding to Modules 2 if you are unfamiliar with the project. 

      Introduction:

      Within this module, you will first watch a video presentation which provides a detailed overview of how to use the Energy Forecast Model web application and the data layers currently available.

      How-To Activity:

      Now that you have watched the instructional video, we are going to walk through a hands-on activity using the Energy Tool Model web application. In this activity we will access the Energy Forecast Model web application and explore the different features and data that are available.

      There are two levels for this activity. The first level is called the “Manager Level”. This level will focus on using the information contained within the web application only. The activity will cover the different data layers that are available and features of the web application. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level. The second level, “Technical Level”, will cover the same material as the Manger Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

      Select the appropriate document from the list below to begin the activity:

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • The web-based mapping tool of this energy assessment combines multiple layers of data on energy development trends and important natural resource and ecosystem services, to give a more comprehensive picture of what potential energy development could look like in the Appalachians. 
      • The tool shows where energy development is most likely to occur and indicates areas where such development may intersect with other significant values like intact forests, important streams, and vital ecological services such as drinking water supplies.
      • Users are able to download data from the Energy Forecast Model to be used in a local GIS system.
      • The Energy Forecast Model web application does not allow users to upload additional data layers.
      • The Energy Forecast Model web application does not allows users to perform their own custom analysis. There are some analysis layers already included within the web application, but these cannot be altered by users.
    • Module 3

      Module 3 - Decision Support Tool Using Case Study Examples

      Objective: The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the Energy Forecast Model data visualization tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility. 

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should be familiar with using the Energy Forecast Model data visualization tool. If you are not familiar with this tool, the information is covered in Module 2 of this course. You should complete Module 2 before proceeding to Module 3 if you are unfamiliar with the tool. 

      Introduction:

      Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how data from the Energy Forecast Model can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation management. After watching the video, participants should review the brief summary information. The case study scenarios provided are examples of how data from the Energy Forecast Model can be used and integrated with other data sources to refine priorities and strategically plan for conservation management. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the Energy Forecast Model data with other data in different geographic areas.

      Video:

      In the following video, Jessica Rhodes, Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst, discusses several case study examples which utilize output from the Energy Forecast Model.

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • The Energy Forecast Map data visualization tool includes data layers regarding the risk of future risk of energy development as well as some layers where analysis has already completed to show where areas of development may intersect with other significant values (example: intact forests, important streams, vital ecological services).
      • Data downloaded from the Energy Forecast can be used on conjunction with other data layers to identify areas with potential risk of energy development that could have a greater impact to a species or habitat of interest if development were to occur.
      • Module 4

        Module 4 - Case Study Activity

        Objective

        Users will apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the tools as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility. The final objective is to facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the tools to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

        Prerequisite:

        Before completing this module you should be familiar with the Energy Forecast Model online tool and be comfortable running the analysis for your area of interest. If you have not previously used the Energy Forecast Model tool, the information is covered in Module 2 of this course. In addition, you should also review Module 3 to develop an understanding of some of the different ways the tool can be used. 

        Introduction:

        In Module 3, we discussed several case study examples of how the RPCCR can be used to identify and prioritizes areas for conservation based on organizational priorities and needs.  In this module, users will walk through a case study example using the directions that are provided. Complete instructions for this activity are available for download from the course materials.

        There are two levels for this activity. The first level is called the “Manager Level”. This level will utilize the same data as that in the Technical Level, however, you will not to perform the analysis. The analysis on the data layers has already been completed and the results uploaded to the Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning Atlas (https://applcc.databasin.org/). The original data layers as well as the intermediate layers have been incorporated into a web map. The instructions for the activity will explain what the different layers are and discuss how they can be used to answer the question. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level.

        The second level, “Technical Level”, will cover the same material as the Manager Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

        A list of potential data layers is also provided. The next section provides a potential solution for answering the stated question. You can use additional data layers or incorporate different data layers you have available. The goal of this exercise is to get you thinking of the many different ways the data from Energy  Forecast Model data can be used in conjunction with other data layers and resources.

        Select the appropriate document from the list below to begin the activity:

        Data:

        The data for this activity is for Pennsylvania; however the analysis could be performed in other states where data is available. Data layers for the analysis are available at the following link (only needed for Technical Level activity). These links will download a zip file. You will need to extract the data from each file before it can be used in ArcGIS: 

        1. Potential of Wind Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC – 90 Percent Risk or Greater
        2. Pennsylvania Watersheds with a Documented Bat Occurrence
        3. Pennsylvania Forest Cores at Risk to Energy Development
      • Module 5

        Module 5 – Assessment Quiz

        This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1-4 of this course. You will need a score of 60% percent to pass.

        There are a total of 10 questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

        You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

        Energy Forecast Model Assessment Quiz

      • Module 6 - Participant Feedback

        Thank you for participating in this online course. It is very important to us that the online courses we provide are beneficial to course participants. A link is provided below to a brief course assessment survey. We value your feedback and will use your responses to improve on future online offerings of this course.

        If you have any questions regarding the course evaluation or prefer to provide feedback in person, please don't hesitate to email me at jessica_rhodes@fws.gov.

        Participant Feedback Survey