U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Adverse water conditions: Reduced stream flow, lack of rain in the drainage basin, or low water supply behind a pondage or reservoir dam resulting in a reduced gross head that limits the production of hydroelectric power or forces restrictions to be placed on multipurpose reservoirs or other water uses.
Adverse Weather Conditions: Reduced streamflow, lack of rain in the drainage basin, or low water supply behind a pondage or reservoir dam resulting in a reduced gross head that limits the production of hydroelectric power or forces restrictions to be placed on multipurpose reservoirs or other water uses.
Amorphous silicon: An alloy of silica and hydrogen, with a disordered, noncrystalline internal atomic arrangement, that can be deposited in thin-film layers (a few micrometers in thickness) by a number of deposition methods to produce thin-film photovoltaic cells on glass, metal, or plastic substrates.
Average water conditions: The amount and distribution of precipitation within a drainage basin and the run off conditions present as determined by reviewing the area water supply records over a long period of time.
Biodiesel: A fuel typically made from soybean, canola, or other vegetable oils; animal fats; and recycled grease. It can serve as a substitute for petroleum-derived diesel or distillate fuel. For EIA reporting, it is a fuel composed of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, designated B100, and meeting the requirements of ASTM (American Society for Testing materials) D 6751.
Biomass waste: Organic non-fossil material of biological origin that is a byproduct or a discarded product. Biomass waste includes municipal solid waste from biogenic sources, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural crop byproducts, straw, and other biomass solids, liquids, and gases; but excludes wood and wood-derived fuels (including black liquor), biofuels feedstock, biodiesel, and fuel ethanol. Note: EIA biomass waste data also include energy crops grown specifically for energy production, which would not normally constitute waste.
Biomass-based diesel fuel: Biodiesel and other renewable diesel fuel or diesel fuel blending components derived from biomass, but excluding renewable diesel fuel coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks.
Black liquor: A by product of the paper production process, alkaline spent liquor, that can be used as a source of energy. Alkaline spent liquor is removed from the digesters in the process of chemically pulping wood. After evaporation, the residual "black" liquor is burned as a fuel in a recovery furnace that permits the recovery of certain basic chemicals.
Carbon stocks: The quantity of carbon stored in biological and physical systems including: trees, products of harvested trees, agricultural crops, plants, wood and paper products and other terrestrial biosphere sinks, soils, oceans, and sedimentary and geological sinks.
Concentrating solar power or solar thermal power system: A solar energy conversion system characterized by the optical concentration of solar rays through an arrangement of mirrors to generate a high temperature working fluid. Also see Solar trough, Solar power tower, or Solar dish. Concentrating solar power (but not Solar thermal power) may also refer to a system that focuses solar rays on aphotovoltaic cell to increase conversion efficiency.
Concentrator: A reflective or refractive device that focuses incident insolation onto an area smaller than the reflective or refractive surface, resulting in increased insolation at the point of focus.
Dam: A physical barrier constructed across a river or waterway to control the flow of or raise the level of water. The purpose of construction may be for flood control, irrigation needs, hydroelectric power production, and/or recreation usage.
Externalities: Benefits or costs, generated as a byproduct of an economic activity, that do not accrue to the parties involved in the activity. Environmental externalities are benefits or costs that manifest themselves through changes in the physical or biological environment.
Flow control: The laws, regulations, and economic incentives or disincentives used by waste managers to direct waste generated in a specific geographic area to a designated landfill, recycling, or waste-to-energy facility.
Geologic sequestration: A type of engineered sequestration, where captured carbon dioxide is injected for permanent storage into underground geologic reservoirs, such as oil and natural gas fields, saline aquifers, or abandoned coal mines.
Green pricing: In the case of renewable electricity, green pricing represents a market solution to the various problems associated with regulatory valuation of the nonmarket benefits of renewables. Green pricing programs allow electricity customers to express their willingness to pay for renewable energy development through direct payments on their monthly utility bills.
Heat pump (geothermal): A heat pump in which the refrigerant exchanges heat (in a heat exchanger) with a fluid circulating through an earth connection medium (ground or ground water). The fluid is contained in a variety of loop (pipe) configurations depending on the temperature of the ground and the ground area available. Loops may be installed horizontally or vertically in the ground or submersed in a body of water.
Heat pump efficiency: The efficiency of a heat pump, that is, the electrical energy to operate it, is directly related to temperatures between which it operates. Geothermal heat pumps are more efficient than conventional heat pumps or air conditioners that use the outdoor air since the ground or ground water a few feet below the earth's surface remains relatively constant throughout the year. It is more efficient in the winter to draw heat from the relatively warm ground than from the atmosphere where the air temperature is much colder, and in summer transfer waste heat to the relatively cool ground than to hotter air. Geothermal heat pumps are generally more expensive ($2,000-$5,000) to install than outside air heat pumps. However, depending on the location geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption (operating cost) and correspondingly, emissions by more than 20 percent compared to high-efficiency outside air heat pumps. Geothermal heat pumps also use the waste heat from air-conditioning to provide free hot water heating in the summer.
Heating stove burning wood, coal, or coke: Any free-standing box or controlled-draft stove; or a stove installed in a fireplace opening, using the chimney of the fireplace. Stoves are made of cast iron, sheet metal, or plate steel. Free-standing fireplaces that can be detached from their chimneys are considered heating stoves.
Hydraulic fracturing: Fracturing of rock at depth with fluid pressure. Hydraulic fracturing at depth may be accomplished by pumping water into a well at very high pressures. Under natural conditions, vapor pressure may rise high enough to cause fracturing in a process known as hydrothermal brecciation.
Intermittent electric generator or intermittent resource: An electric generating plant with output controlled by the natural variability of the energy resource rather than dispatched based on system requirements. Intermittent output usually results from the direct, non-stored conversion of naturally occurring energy fluxes such as solar energy, wind energy, or the energy of free-flowing rivers (that is, run-of-river hydroelectricity).
Landfill gas: Gas that is generated by decomposition of organic material at landfill disposal sites. The average composition of landfill gas is approximately 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide and water vapor by volume. The methane percentage, however, can vary from 40 to 60 percent, depending on several factors including waste composition (e.g. carbohydrate and cellulose content). The methane in landfill gas may be vented, flared, combusted to generate electricity or useful thermal energy on-site, or injected into a pipeline for combustion off-site.
Median water condition: The middle precipitation and run-off condition for a distribution of water conditions that have happened over a long period of time. Usually determined by examining the water supply record of the period in question.
Modules: Photovoltaic cells or an assembly of cells into panels (modules) intended for and shipped for final consumption or to another organization for resale. When exported, incomplete modules and unencapsulated cells are also included. Modules used for space applications are not included.
Multiple purpose reservoir: Stored water and its usage governed by advanced water resource conservation practices to achieve more than one water control objective. Some of the objectives include flood control, hydroelectric power development, irrigation, recreation usage, and wilderness protection.
Municipal waste: As defined in the Energy Security Act (P.L. 96-294; 1980) as "any organic matter, including sewage, sewage sludge, and industrial or commercial waste, and mixtures of such matter and inorganic refuse from any publicly or privately operated municipal waste collection or similar disposal system, or from similar waste flows (other than such flows which constitute agricultural wastes or residues, or wood wastes or residues from wood harvesting activities or production of forest products)."
Non-biomass waste: Material of non-biological origin that is a byproduct or a discarded product. "Non-biomass waste" includes municipal solid waste from non-biogenic sources, such as plastics, and tire-derived fuels.
Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC): The process or technologies for producing energy by harnessing the temperature differences (thermal gradients) between ocean surface waters and that of ocean depths. Warm surface water is pumped through an evaporator containing a working fluid in a closed Rankine-cycle system. The vaporized fluid drives a turbine/generator.
Offshore: That geographic area that lies seaward of the coastline. In general, the coastline is the line of ordinary low water along with that portion of the coast that is in direct contact with the open sea or the line marking the seaward limit of inland water. If a state agency uses a different basis for classifying onshore and offshore areas, the state classification should be used (e.g., Cook Inlet in Alaska is classified as offshore; for Louisiana, the coastline is defined as the Chapman Line, as modified by subsequent adjudication).
Photovoltaic cell (PVC): An electronic device consisting of layers of semiconductor materials fabricated to form a junction (adjacent layers of materials with different electronic characteristics) and electrical contacts and being capable of converting incident light directly into electricity (direct current).
Photovoltaic module: An integrated assembly of interconnected photovoltaic cells designed to deliver a selected level of working voltage and current at its output terminals, packaged for protection against environmental degradation, and suited for incorporation in photovoltaic power systems.
Preliminary permit (hydroelectric power): A single site permit granted by the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), which gives the recipient priority over anyone else to apply for a hydroelectric license. The preliminary permit enables the recipient to prepare a license application and conduct various studies for economic feasibility and environmental impacts. The period for a preliminary permit may extend to 3 years.
Public Utility Regulatory PoliciesAct (PURPA) of 1978: One part of the National Energy Act, PURPA contains measures designed to encourage the conservation of energy, more efficient use of resources, and equitable rates. Principal among these were suggested retail rate reforms and new incentives for production of electricity by cogenerators and users of renewable resources. The Commission has primary authority for implementing several key PURPA programs.
Pulping liquor (black liquor): The alkaline spent liquor removed from the digesters in the process of chemically pulping wood. After evaporation, the liquor is burned as a fuel in a recovery furnace that permits the recovery of certain basic chemicals.
PVCs that convert sunlight directly into energy: A method for producing energy by converting sunlight using photovoltaic cells (PVCs) that are solid-state single converter devices. Although currently not in wide usage, commercial customers have a growing interest in usage and, therefore, DOE has a growing interest in the impact of PVCs on energy consumption. Economically, PVCs are competitive with other sources of electricity.
Renewable diesel fuel (other): Diesel fuel and diesel fuel blending components produced from renewable sources that are coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks and meet requirements of advanced biofuels. Note: This category "other" pertains to the petroleum supply data system.
Renewable energy resources: Energy resources that are naturally replenishing but flow-limited. They are virtually inexhaustible in duration but limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time. Renewable energy resources include biomass, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, ocean thermal, wave action, and tidal action.
Renewable fuels (other): Fuels and fuel blending components, except biomass-based diesel fuel, renewable diesel fuel, and fuel ethanol, produced from renewable biomass. Note: This category "other" pertains to the petroleum supply data system.
Reversible turbine: A hydraulic turbine, normally installed in a pumped-storage plant, which can be used alternatively as a pump or as an engine, turbine, water wheel, or other apparatus that drives an electrical generator.
Ribbon silicon: Crystalline silicon that is used in photovoltaic cells. Ribbon silicon is fabricated by a variety of solidification (crystallization) methods that withdraw thin silicon sheets from pools of relatively pure molten silicon.
Run off: That portion of the precipitation that flows over the land surface and ultimately reaches streams to complete the water cycle. Melting snow is an important source of this water as well as all amounts of surface water that move to streams or rivers through any given area of a drainage basin.
Single crystal silicon: An extremely pure form of crystalline silicon produced by dipping a single crystal seed into a pool of molten silicon under high vacuum conditions and slowly withdrawing a solidifying single crystal boule (rod) of silicon. The boule is sawed into thin silicon wafers and fabricated into single-crystal photovoltaic cells.
Single crystal silicon (Czochralsky): Silicon cells with a well-ordered crystalline structure consisting of one crystal (usually obtained by means of the Czochralsky growth technique and involving in got slicing), composing a module. Ribbon silicon is excluded.
Solar cell: See Photovoltaic cell
Solar cooling: The use of solar thermal energy or solar electricity to power a cooling appliance. There are five basic types of solar cooling technologies absorption cooling, which can use solar thermal energy to vaporize the refrigerant; desiccant cooling, which can use solar thermal energy to regenerate (dry) the desiccant; vapor compression cooling, which can use solar thermal energy to operate a Rankine-cycle heat engine; and evaporative coolers ("swamp" coolers), and heat-pumps and air conditioners that can by powered by solar photovoltaic systems.
Solar dish: See Parabolic dish
Solar pond: A body of water that contains brackish (highly saline) water that forms layers of differing salinity (stratifies) that absorb and trap solar energy. Solar ponds can be used to provide heat for industrial or agricultural processes, building heating and cooling, and to generate electricity.
Solar power tower: A solar energy conversion system that uses a large field of independently adjustable mirrors(heliostats) to focus solar rays on a near single point atop a fixed tower (receiver). The concentrated energy may be used to directly heat the working fluid of a Rankine cycle engine or to heat an intermediary thermal storage medium (such as a molten salt).
Solar radiation: A general term for the visible and near visible (ultraviolet and near-infrared) electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by the sun. It has a spectral, or wavelength, distribution that corresponds to different energy levels; short wavelength radiation has a higher energy than long-wavelength radiation.
Solar thermal collector: A device designed to receive solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. Normally, a solar thermal collector includes a frame, glazing, and an absorber, together with appropriate insulation. The heat collected by the solar collector may be used immediately or stored for later use. Solar collectors are used for space heating; domestic hot water heating; and heating swimming pools, hot tubs, or spas.
Solar thermal collector, low-temperature: A collector that generally operates at temperatures below 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, it has no glazing or insulation and is made of plastic or rubber, although some are made of metal.
Solar thermal collector, medium-temperature: A collector that generally operates at temperatures of 140 degrees F to180 degrees Fahrenheit, but can also operate at temperatures as low as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, it has one or two glazings, a metal frame, a metal absorption panel with integral flow channels or attached tubing (liquid collector) or with integral ducting (air collector) and insulation on the sides and back of the panel.
Solar thermal collector, special: An evacuated tube collector or a concentrating (focusing) collector. Special collectors operate in the temperature range from just above ambient temperature (low concentration for pool heating) to several hundred degrees Fahrenheit (high concentration for air conditioning and specialized industrial processes).
Solar thermal panels: A system that actively concentrates thermal energy from the sun by means of solar collector panels. The panels typically consist of fat, sun-oriented boxes with transparent covers, containing water tubes of air baffles under a blackened heat absorbent panel. The energy is usually used for space heating, for water heating, and for heating swimming pools.
Solar thermal parabolic dishes: A solar thermal technology that uses a modular mirror system that approximates a parabola and incorporates two-axis tracking to focus the sunlight onto receivers located at the focal point of each dish. The mirror system typically is made from a number of mirror facets, either glass or polymer mirror, or can consist of a single stretched membrane using a polymer mirror. The concentrated sunlight may be used directly by a Stirling, Rankine, or Brayton cycle heat engine at the focal point of the receiver or to heat a working fluid that is piped to a central engine. The primary applications include remote electrification, water pumping, and grid-connected generation.
Solar trough or solar parabolic trough: See Parabolic trough
Special collector: An evacuated tube collector or a concentrating (focusing) collector. Special collectors operate in the temperature range from just above ambient temperature (low concentration for pool heating) to several hundred degrees Fahrenheit (high concentration for air conditioning and specialized industrial processes).
Thermophotovoltaic cell: A device where sunlight concentrated onto a absorber heats it to a high temperature, and the thermal radiation emitted by the absorber is used as the energy source for a photovoltaic cell that is designed to maximize conversion efficiency at the wavelength of the thermal radiation.
Thermosiphon system: A solar collector system for water heating in which circulation of the collection fluid through the storage loop is provided solely by the temperature and density difference between the hot and cold fluids.
Unglazed solar collector: A solar thermal collector that has an absorber that does not have a glazed covering. Solar swimming pool heater systems usually use unglazed collectors because they circulate relatively large volumes of water through the collector and capture nearly 80 percent of the solar energy available.
Water turbine: A turbine that uses water pressure to rotate its blades; the primary types are the Pelton wheel, for high heads (pressure); the Francis turbine, for low to medium heads; and the Kaplan for a wide range of heads. Primarily used to power an electric generator.
Wind energy conversion system (WECS) or device: An apparatus for converting the energy available in the wind to mechanical energy that can be used to power machinery (grain mills, water pumps) and to operate an electrical generator.
Wind farm: See Wind power plant.
Wind power plant: A group of wind turbines interconnected to a common utility system through a system of transformers, distribution lines, and (usually) one substation. Operation, control, and maintenance functions are often centralized through a network of computerized monitoring systems, supplemented by visual inspection. This is a term commonly used in the United States. In Europe, it is called a generating station.