Renewable Energy : Glossary

There are 82 documents in this section.

  • Radiant energy

    6 November 2000

    Energy transmitted in the form of radiation - i.e. as rays, waves, or streams of particles. The main source of radiant energy in the earth/atmosphere system is the sun.

  • Renewable energy

    6 November 2000

    Energy from natural sources, that can be replaced as it is used or at least within a very limited time frame. Renewable energy is supplied by flowing water, wind, biomass and the sun.

  • Renewable resource

    6 November 2000

    A resource that is replaced at the rate which is faster than, or at least as fast as, it can be used. The oxygen (O) in the air, the plants and animals in the environment, the water in the hydrological system and energy from the sun are all renewable.

  • Solar energy

    6 November 2000

    Radiant energy produced in the Sun as a result of nuclear fusion reactions. It is transmitted to the Earth through space by electromagnetic radiation in quanta of energy called photons, which interact with the Earth's atmosphere and surface. Since the sun is a very hot body, radiating at a temperature of about 57000 K, the bulk of the radiation is high energy at ultraviolet and visible light wavelengths.

  • Thermal electric power station

    6 November 2000

    An electricity generating station in which the electricity is produced by burning coal, oil or natural gas, with coal being the most common fuel used. The thermal energy released when the coal is burned is used to heat water and produce steam, which is directed under pressure through turbines. These in turn power generators to produce the electricity.

  • Tidal/wave power

    6 November 2000

    Power that can be generated in coastal locations from the twice-daily ebb and flow of the tides. As the tide rises, water is allowed to flow through gates in the dam to fill the basin behind it. At high tide the gates are closed and as the tide falls the water in the basin is retained behind the dam. Once a sufficient head of water is built up, the water behind the dam is released and the potential energy it possesses is converted into kinetic energy which drives generators to produce electricity.

  • Turbine

    6 November 2000

    Rotary engine that converts the energy of a moving stream of water, steam, or gas into mechanical energy. The basic element in a turbine is a wheel or rotor with paddles, propellers, blades, or buckets arranged on its circumference in such a fashion that the moving fluid exerts a tangential force that turns the wheel and imparts energy to it. This mechanical energy is then transferred through a drive shaft to operate a machine, compressor, electric generator, or propeller. Turbines are classified as hydraulic, or water, turbines, steam turbines, or gas turbines. Today turbine-powered generators produce most of the world's electrical energy. Windmills that generate electricity are known as wind turbines.

  • Waste-to-energy incinerator

    6 November 2000

    An incinerator that uses waste products as fuel, to provide energy for space or water heating. Various types or refuse are used, from simple paper products to plastic and scrap car tyres. In many cases they are used as fuel supplements, since on their own they have an energy content that may be only 30 to 50 per cent that of solid fuels.

  • Wind energy

    6 November 2000

    Energy from moving air which is converted to electricity, by using wind to turn electricity generators. Wind energy has a number of advantages over conventional forms of energy. It is pollution-free and renewable.

  • Wind farm

    6 November 2000

    A cluster of wind turbines (up to several hundred) for generating electrical energy, erected in areas where there is a nearly steady prevalent wind; such areas generally occur near mountain passes.