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National Science Foundation Awards $970,000 to Duke University and Partners to Improve Access to Global Energy Data

A $970,000 grant aims to conceptualize a new public platform to create an open knowledge network for high-priority energy data

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $970,000 grant to researchers at Duke UniversityWorld Resources InstituteElectric Power Research Institute, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conceptualize a new public platform to create an open knowledge network for high-priority energy data. 

The Global Energy Data Commons (GEDC) would enable public access to open energy information, helping overcome persistent challenges in energy data availability and interoperability.  

The project is one of 43 funded through NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Pilot, which brings multidisciplinary, multi-institutional teams together “to focus on grand challenges of national importance that require a convergence approach.” The GEDC project is part of the pilot’s “Harnessing the Data Revolution” track, which supports the creation of open knowledge networks that offer public access to vast amounts of pooled information and ideas.

During the nine-month Phase I funding period, the GEDC team will work with stakeholders from academia, industry, and the nonprofit sector to identify high-priority data needs and evaluate potential methods for collecting those data, such as using machine learning to extract large-scale systems data. The project team will inventory existing energy data and craft data interoperability guidelines to support a more coordinated research network.

These efforts will inform and drive an energy data research agenda that’s responsive to user demand and real-world problems.

Ultimately, the team envisions the GEDC will improve public access to energy data and insights, thanks to the creation of curated and centralized databases, online tools, and visualizations.

“We want to make it easier than ever for researchers, innovators, and decisionmakers to access and use data to advance energy systems that are reliable, affordable, accessible, and sustainable,” explained Dr. Kyle Bradbury, managing director of Duke University’s Energy Data Analytics Lab and the project’s principal investigator.

Co-principal investigators are Dr. Jordan Malof (Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University); Dr. Brian Murray (Energy Initiative and Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University); Johannes Friedrich (World Resources Institute); Dr. Steven Rose (Electric Power Research Institute); and Dr. Dylan Harrison-Atlas (National Renewable Energy Laboratory).

Over the next several months, NSF will conduct intensive workshops with the Convergence Accelerator grantee cohort, building teams’ capacity for working effectively with diverse stakeholders and for pitching their efforts to potential partners, investors, and users. 

“The Convergence Accelerator program is designed to equip multi-institutional research teams to establish robust stakeholder networks that make their work actionable and impactful,” explained Douglas Maughan, NSF Convergence Accelerator Office Head. “With this innovative approach, NSF is making a meaningful investment in helping researchers build strong public-private partnerships to tackle important challenges facing our country and world.”  

In spring 2020, the GEDC team, along with the other 42 teams, will pitch NSF for Phase II funding of up to $5M to implement the GEDC platform and undertake focused data collection in high-priority areas.

For more information, contact Braden Welborn at the Duke University Energy Initiative: or (919) 613-0436.