Renewable Energy : Glossary

There are 82 documents in this section.

  • Biofuel

    3 November 2000

    Renewable hydrocarbon fuel, usually alcohol, e.g. methanol, ethanol, derived from corn (maize) and other grains.

  • Biogas

    3 November 2000

    The generation of gas from animal dung or farm and household wastes. It provides a cheap source of energy, especially in rural regions in developing countries.

  • Biomass energy

    3 November 2000

    Energy available from organic material in the environment, that originated as solar energy absorbed by plants and was converted into chemical energy by photosynthesis. Biomass energy, mainly in the form of wood, was the main source of energy prior to the development of fossil fuels. It includes energy available in wood, crops, crop residues, industrial and municipal organic waste, food processing waste and animal wastes.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)

    3 November 2000

    One of the major greenhouse gases. Human-generated carbon dioxide is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels.

  • Carbon tax

    3 November 2000

    A policy that would tax fossil fuels according to the amount of carbon they contained. This would reduce the demand for fossil fuels in general and cause a realignment away from coal to less polluting natural gas, or renewable sources of energy.

  • Coal

    3 November 2000

    A black or brown combustible material composed of carbon (C), various carbon compounds and other materials such as sulphur (S). The most abundant of the fossil fuels, it was formed through the accumulation of vegetable matter over millions of years in environments (e.g. swamps, deltas) which reduced the rate of decay of the organic material and allowed the preservation of the solar energy to absorbed by it when it was growing. When coal is burned, it is that energy which is released.

  • Cogeneration

    3 November 2000

    The combined production of heat and power from one plant. The power is usually in the form of electricity and the heat in the form of steam produced from a single fuel source.

  • Combustion

    3 November 2000

    A chemical reaction in which a substance combines with oxygen (O)(oxidation) to release energy in the form of heat and light.

  • Electricity

    3 November 2000

    The phenomenon associated with stationary or moving electric charges. Electric charge is a fundamental property of matter and is borne by elementary particles. In electricity the particle involved is the electron, which carries a charge designated, by convention, as negative. Thus, the various manifestations of electricity are the result of the accumulation or motion of numbers of electrons.

  • Energy budget

    3 November 2000

    An accounting of the flow of energy through a system. Originally applied by ecologists to ecosystems, the approach is also useful in industry to check the energy efficiency of industrial processes.