The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

What You Need To Know About Energy

What do you know about energy?

True or False: Burning coal in electric power plants is a major source of CO2 and other emissions. However, its use doesn't have negative consequences beyond the emissions caused by combustion.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Mining coal disturbs the land and modifies the chemistry of rainwater runoff, which in turn affects stream and river water quality.

  • Correct!

    Mining coal disturbs the land and modifies the chemistry of rainwater runoff, which in turn affects stream and river water quality.

True or false? Fuel cells store energy.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Fuel cells are an efficient way to convert hydrogen to electricity, but the energy is stored in the hydrogen.

  • Correct!

    Fuel cells are an efficient way to convert hydrogen to electricity, but the energy is stored in the hydrogen.

How are battery electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles different?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Correct!

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

A typical incandescent lamp (traditional light bulb) consumes 60 watts of power. How much do each of a compact fluorescent and LED lamp consume, in watts, to produce the same amount of light?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    A typical incandescent lamp (traditional light bulb) that consumes 60 watts of power produces around 800 lumens. A compact fluorescent lamp emits the same amount of light while using only 13 watts. And an LED lamp consumes only 10 watts to give off the same 800 lumens.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    A typical incandescent lamp (traditional light bulb) that consumes 60 watts of power produces around 800 lumens. A compact fluorescent lamp emits the same amount of light while using only 13 watts. And an LED lamp consumes only 10 watts to give off the same 800 lumens.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    A typical incandescent lamp (traditional light bulb) that consumes 60 watts of power produces around 800 lumens. A compact fluorescent lamp emits the same amount of light while using only 13 watts. And an LED lamp consumes only 10 watts to give off the same 800 lumens.

  • Correct!

    A typical incandescent lamp (traditional light bulb) that consumes 60 watts of power produces around 800 lumens. A compact fluorescent lamp emits the same amount of light while using only 13 watts. And an LED lamp consumes only 10 watts to give off the same 800 lumens.

How efficient are ordinary commercial solar cell units?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Correct!

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

Which of the following is frequently used as a unit of measurement for the energy content of fuels?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Correct!

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

In 2014, of the four economic sectors, which used the most energy in the United States?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Correct!

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the industrial sector represented 32% of U.S. energy use, while transportation was 28%. Residential and commercial were 22% and 19% respectively.

What technology was most responsible for increase in lighting efficiency from 45 Im/W in 2001 to 58 Im/W in 2010?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Increasing market share of compact fluorescents was primarily responsible for the increased lighting efficiency between 2001 and 2010.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Increasing market share of compact fluorescents was primarily responsible for the increased lighting efficiency between 2001 and 2010.

  • Correct!

    Increasing market share of compact fluorescents was primarily responsible for the increased lighting efficiency between 2001 and 2010.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Increasing market share of compact fluorescents was primarily responsible for the increased lighting efficiency between 2001 and 2010.

Which source(s) of energy are not nuclear in origin?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

  • Correct!

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun, and geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun, and geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

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Primary Energy

Energy that has not undergone transformation to another form. This may include fuels like natural gas or oil, or may include other forms of energy, such as solar or wind energy.

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