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 biofuels does not release carbon dioxide.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Biofuels contain carbon and although they may burn “cleaner” than oil-derived fuels, they do not avoid generating carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Correct!

    Biofuels contain carbon and although they may burn “cleaner” than oil-derived fuels, they do not avoid generating carbon dioxide emissions.

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%. 

The consumption of energy in the United States is projected to rise by how much between 2013 and 2040?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period

  • Correct!

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    U.S. energy consumption is projected to rise 9% by 2040, or 0.3% per year, while global consumption will increase about 50% over the same period

Nuclear power provided what percentage of the total U.S. energy supply in 2013?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    19% of our electricity was generated  by nuclear fuel in 2013. 

  • Correct!

    19% of our electricity was generated  by nuclear fuel in 2013. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    19% of our electricity was generated  by nuclear fuel in 2013. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    19% of our electricity was generated  by nuclear fuel in 2013. 

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. 

Which has been growing more, energy used by lighting and appliances or energy used for heating and cooling?

  • Correct!

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

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.

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.

Energy intensity is a measure of:

  • Correct!

    Energy intensity is a measure of a nation's energy efficiency represented through energy use per unit of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Energy intensity is a measure of a nation's energy efficiency represented through energy use per unit of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Energy intensity is a measure of a nation's energy efficiency represented through energy use per unit of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

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Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

A device that emits light due to electronic excitation of mercury atoms within a lamp. The mercury atoms lose their excitation energy by emitting an ultraviolet photon, which is converted to visible light in the fluorescent coating of the bulb. CFLs are much more efficient in converting electrical energy to light energy than incandescent bulbs.

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