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Energy Glossary

Carbon Footprint
The overall amount of Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from a person's or organization's activities.
Concentrating solar power (CSP)
A name for several types of solar technologies that use mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight to produce energy. Two common examples are concentration of sunlight onto either a) a receiver which contains a heat transfer fluid, or b) photovoltaic panels. If the device uses concentrated sunlight to heat a transfer fluid, the fluid is either used to make steam to turn a turbine and power an electrical generator or stored to make steam at a later time. If the device is used to concentrate sunlight on photovoltaic panels, the panels produce more electricity than they would without the concentrating effect.
Energy Efficiency
Using less energy to achieve a desired purpose such as space cooling or heating, water heating, motor drives, lighting, refrigeration, etc. More efficient appliances and lighting, better insulated buildings, and shade trees are all examples of energy efficiency.
Fossil Fuels
These non-renewable fuels are organically created over millions of years from the decomposition of buried organisms. Oil, natural gas, and coal are all fossil fuels.
Geothermal Power
A method of harnessing the thermal, or heat, energy of the earth's surface which can be converted to electrical power or useful heat such as for heating a greenhouse.
Greenhouse Gas
A gas in the atmosphere which traps heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and several industrial chemicals. Carbon dioxide is released into the earth's atmosphere as a byproduct of burning fossil fuels.
A network of power stations, transmission lines, sub stations, and distribution lines that deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers.
Units used to measure either the instantaneous capacity to generate electricity or the instantaneous consumption of electricity. It measures power (as opposed to energy). A megawatt is equal to one million watts of power.
Photovoltaic cells which convert solar energy to electricity.
Public Utility Commission. These commissions regulate rates and other aspects of electrical, natural gas, heating, and water utilities.
Renewable Energy
Energy sources derived from the earth's natural processes such as solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal resources.
Solar Energy
Solar energy uses the energy from the sun to produce electricity or useful heat. There are many types of solar energy technologies. The most common types are photovoltaics, concentrating solar power (CSP), and solar hot water technologies.
Transmission Line
A cable used for transmitting electrical currents from for example a utility provider to a consumer's home.
Wind Energy
Uses the energy in wind for the purpose of generating electricity.
Zero Carbon Resources
Sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power that when used, do not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.