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Understanding energy

> Renewable energy sources

> Non-renewable energy sources

Energy is an integral part of our everyday lives. We use energy directly to:

  • Light and heat our homes
  • Cook our meals
  • Travel to and from our workplaces

Understanding energy

We use energy indirectly in:

  • The goods we purchase
  • The services provided to us

How we produce and consume energy has far-reaching implications, which:

  • Affect our economy
  • Demonstrate our responsibility to the environment and future generations
  • Help to define us as a society

What is energy?

Energy makes things happen. It is one of the most fundamental parts of our universe. We depend on energy for almost everything we do. It powers cars and planes, lights our cities and warms our homes.

Forms of energy

Energy has several forms:

  • Chemical
  • Electrical
  • Thermal (heat)
  • Radiant (light)
  • Nuclear
  • Mechanical (potential and kinetic)

When something is able to produce energy, it is called potential energy, like water. When something is producing energy through motion, it is called kinetic energy, like water moving through a dam.

Energy can be converted from one form to another, as in these examples.

  • A piece of magnesium has energy stored in chemical form. If the magnesium is ignited, that energy is converted to heat, light and sound.
  • A hydroelectric facility makes use of the potential energy in stored water. It converts the kinetic energy of falling water into the electrical energy we use to power our homes and offices.

Where does our energy come from?

The energy we use every day comes from a wide array of sources and can be broken down into two categories: renewable and non-renewable.