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: 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.

On average, which is most efficient in coverting heat into electic power?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Correct!

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

True or false? Carbon capture and storage would reduce energy efficiency of a coal plant?

  • Correct!

    Carbon capture and storage will reduce energy efficiency of a coal plant, though it will decrease carbon emissions.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Carbon capture and storage will reduce energy efficiency of a coal plant, though it will decrease carbon emissions.

True or false? Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased oil and gas production in the U.S.

  • Correct!

    Extraction of "tight" oil—light crude oil contained in geological formations of shale or sandstone—accounted for only 12% of total U.S. oil production in 2008. By 2012, it made up 35%, and is predicted to rise to 50% in the near term.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Extraction of "tight" oil—light crude oil contained in geological formations of shale or sandstone—accounted for only 12% of total U.S. oil production in 2008. By 2012, it made up 35%, and is predicted to rise to 50% in the near term.

Which of the following is not a primary energy source?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Electricity is a secondary energy source because it can only be produced from the use of primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Electricity is a secondary energy source because it can only be produced from the use of primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions.

  • Correct!

    Electricity is a secondary energy source because it can only be produced from the use of primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Electricity is a secondary energy source because it can only be produced from the use of primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Electricity is a secondary energy source because it can only be produced from the use of primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions.

Which of the following energy sources releases carbon dioxide when burned?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas all release CO2 when burned.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas all release CO2 when burned.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas all release CO2 when burned.

  • Correct!

    Gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas all release CO2 when burned.

Which of the following sources do experts expect will provide us with the “silver bullet” solution to our energy needs?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    There is no silver bullet. Tomorrow’s energy, like today’s, will come from a variety of sources.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    There is no silver bullet. Tomorrow’s energy, like today’s, will come from a variety of sources.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    There is no silver bullet. Tomorrow’s energy, like today’s, will come from a variety of sources.

  • Correct!

    There is no silver bullet. Tomorrow’s energy, like today’s, will come from a variety of sources.

In 2014, what percentage of the United States' total energy consumption came from oil?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the United States got 35% of its energy from petroleum, and experts project that demand for this fuel will rise at least through 2020. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the United States got 35% of its energy from petroleum, and experts project that demand for this fuel will rise at least through 2020. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, the United States got 35% of its energy from petroleum, and experts project that demand for this fuel will rise at least through 2020. 

  • Correct!

    In 2014, the United States got 35% of its energy from petroleum, and experts project that demand for this fuel will rise at least through 2020. 

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