SINGAPORE (Reuters) – If you ran a city, what energy source would you use — cheap coal, or costly but environmentally friendly solar power?
As oil prices near record highs, U.S. energy major Chevron is inviting people to deal with a potential future energy supply crunch in an online game called Energyville, which uses real data and scenarios to power a city until 2030.
Players in the free game, designed by The Economist Group, can choose from sources such as biomass, natural gas, nuclear and petroleum, with oil shale and hydrogen being added to the mix by 2015. Players can also invest in energy efficiency.
“Energyville is an engaging way of looking at the real-world decisions that have to be made in meeting rising global energy needs,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron’s vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, in a statement.
The game looks at the economic, environmental and security trade-offs and opportunities from different energy sources to power offices, factories and vehicles in a city of almost 4 million people — about the size of Singapore — combined with random events that affect choices.
“There is no “right” answer to the world’s energy problems,” said Paul Rossi, North American publisher of The Economist.
The game can be accessed through the Web site, http://www.willyoujoinus.com — an energy discussion forum and a slogan for a Chevron campaign advocating green energy and looking to recruit people.
Experts say recruitment is a major problem for the graying oil industry, while environmentalists say the oil majors’ glossy advertisements showing windmills often mask modest investments and skepticism.