Green Energy: Glossary


Short for "ampere." It measures the amount of electricity moving through a wire. Amps are what give electricity its "shock."


Plant material that is used as an energy source
biomass power
Energy from wood and other plant materials


An ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit
A form of energy that occurs in positive and negative forms. It occurs naturally (lightning) or can be produced (as in a generator)
A substance released into the air especially by some sort of motor or engine
energy efficiency
Refers to using products that don't waste energy or use less energy


fossil fuel
Energy source formed from the fossilized remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago by the remains of prehistoric plants and animals. After these plants and animals died, they decomposed and became buried under layers of earth. The pressure and heat from the earth pressed these remains and formed oil, coal, and natural gas


geothermal energy
"Geo" is Latin for "earth," and "thermal" means heat. Energy that is created by heat underground
global warming
Many scientists predict that the earth's climate will continue to rise due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels for energy
greenhouse effect
A natural occurring process in which the earth's atmosphere (composed of many gases including carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor) maintains the earth's warm temperature. The burning of fossil fuels has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and other human activities have increased methane and nitrogen levels, leading to a stronger greenhouse effect and warmer temperatures


hydroelectric power
"Hydro" is Latin for "water," so hydroelectric power is made using the flow of water in a river. When the river flows over a dam, the force of the water spins big fan blades inside the dam. Those fan blades, or turbines, turn the magnet inside the generator to create electricity
Energy that is created by free-falling water


How electric companies measure how much electricity your family uses at home. Kilowatt is abbreviated "KW." A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts ("kilo" is Latin for "thousand")
kinetic energy
The energy caused by an object moving


non-renewable energy
Energy resources that nature can replenish very slowly or not at all. Non-renewable energy, like fossil fuels, may one day run out completely or become depleted to the point where it is too expensive to extract


A storage device that converts sunlight into electricity; sometimes called solar cells


renewable energy
Energy that is never used up or that can be replaced by new growth. Renewable energy comes from the sun, wind, tides, currents, plants, and earth


The second most abundant material found in the Earth's crust that is used for many different purposes such as semiconductors, glass, concrete, computers, and pottery
solar energy
Energy from the sun that is used to make electricity or heat


tidal power
A form of hydropower that uses the energy from the rise and fall of ocean tides
tidal range
The distance between high tide mark and the low tide mark
A type of machine that converts where energy moving through it is into electricity or some other type of power


A volt is the pressure that pushes the electricity through the wires. This is how electricity gets from the power plant to your house


water cycle
The cycle of evaporation and condensation that controls the distribution of the earth's water as it evaporates from bodies of water, condenses, precipitates, and returns to those same bodies of water. The water cycle is also called the hydrologic cycle
wave power
The energy of surface ocean waves and the ability to harness the energy to do some type of work from it
wind power
Power that is created by the wind
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