We present a computer simulation model for the space- and time-resolved calculation of electronic excitation energy densities in atomic collision cascades. The model treats electronic friction as well as electron promotion as a source term of electronic energy that is carried away from the original point of excitation according to a nonlinear diffusion equation. While the frictional source is treated within the Lindhard model of electronic stopping, electron promotion is described using diabatic correlation curves derived from ab initio molecular orbital energy level calculations in combination with the Landau Zener curve crossing model. Results calculated for two selected collision cascades show that the electron promotion mechanism may contribute significantly to the excitation energy density in the cascade volume, giving rise to distinct peaks of the local electron temperature at the surface. This contribution is essentially restricted to the first 100 fs after the projectile impact and may therefore be of significance for either external or internal kinetic electron emission. At later times, where the bombardment-induced particle kinetics lead to the sputter ejection of material from the surface, the excitation is shown to be primarily governed by electronic friction. This finding is important in light of excitation and ionization probabilities of sputtered particles.