An introduction to energy

As discussed in the previous post, the definition of energy is the ability to work. This “ability” can be expressed as a movement, heat, radiation or computation. Formally are called mechanical, chemical, thermal, electrical or nuclear.

Additionally, there is power, and there is Installed power. It is essential to state the difference as the first will allow us to exert energy per time, and the last one, installed is the maximum power of an element.

As humans, we produce energy through the food we eat and transform it into mechanical, thermal or compute work. 

Energy permeates every industry, small business, agriculture, infrastructure and our governments, schools and more.

If we want to be simplistic, all energy comes from the sun, but it transforms through different ways. The plant or tree uses energy from the sun to make photosynthesis. Then the plant will be eaten by us or burnt, and it will be converted into some type of energy: mechanical, thermal and so on. Even fossil fuels that come from old plants used the power of the sun to grow, and now we are using it to power our car and homes.

Does oil really come from dead dinosaurs? (Next post)

It has been forecasted that there will be a significant change in energy demand of households, due to efficiency. It is expected that due to efficiency, the total energy demand for homes will decrease by 30%. This energy requirement means mainly heat, but the electricity demand will increase by 150% because of the high levels of house automation and car using electrical supplies.

The type of energy that will become dominant will be the electrical type coming from renewable electricity rather than fossil fuels.

Now we get to the point of types of energy. It is simple, it is divided by how easy it is to replenish it. There is renewable and non-renewable energy (difficult to restock) that can help us produce electricity (secondary energy).

Renewable energy

There are five primary renewable energy sources:

·      Solar energy from the sun

·      Geothermal energy from the heat inside the earth

·      Wind energy

·      Biomass from plants

·      Hydropower from flowing water

Non-renewable energy

Most of the energy consumed in the world is from non-renewable energy sources:

·      Petroleum products

·      Hydrocarbon gas liquids

·      Natural gas

·      Coal

·      Nuclear energy

The primary energy sources in 2018 were fossil fuels. Oil, gas, coal and nuclear power represent around 88%.

Source: US Energy Information Administration (EIA 2019)

A small summary from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that world energy production increased by 2.2% between 2016 to 2017. The main drivers were coal and natural gas closely followed by renewables (not including hydro and biofuels). Even though oil production remains stable, they accounted for the majority of world production, accounting 81.3% in 2017.

In the following graph, it can be seen that the world sources come from fossil fuels, a non-replenish stock. These sources generate pollutants to the environment that can affect our health.

Source: International Energy Agency 2020.

In my next post I will discuss:

  • Does oil really come from dead dinosaurs?
  • Why are they called fossil fuels (if there is not fossil dinosaur in them)?

Did you like this post? Please leave some comments or tell me what else would you like me to write about.

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