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.

In 2014, how much of the world's CO2 is released by the United States?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The United States emits about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, behind only China, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of total global emissions. 

  • Correct!

    The United States emits about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, behind only China, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of total global emissions. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The United States emits about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, behind only China, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of total global emissions. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The United States emits about 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, behind only China, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of total global emissions. 

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.

According to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, what is the average miles per gallon (mpg) required for new cars, SUVs, and light trucks (combined) by 2025?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The most recent federal efficiency standards, finalized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, are projected to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while also reducing CO2 emissions. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The most recent federal efficiency standards, finalized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, are projected to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while also reducing CO2 emissions. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The most recent federal efficiency standards, finalized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, are projected to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while also reducing CO2 emissions. 

  • Correct!

    The most recent federal efficiency standards, finalized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, are projected to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while also reducing CO2 emissions. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The most recent federal efficiency standards, finalized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012, are projected to increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025, while also reducing CO2 emissions. 

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, about how much have atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased?

  • Correct!

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen about 43% since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century-half of that since 1980

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen about 43% since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century-half of that since 1980

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen about 43% since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century-half of that since 1980

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen about 43% since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-eighteenth century-half of that since 1980

On average, how much solar radiation reaches each square meter of earth?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, even after passing through hundreds of kilometers of air on a clear day, solar radiation reaches Earth with enough energy in a single square meter to run a mid-size desktop computer-if all the sunlight could be captured and converted to electricity.

  • Correct!

    On average, even after passing through hundreds of kilometers of air on a clear day, solar radiation reaches Earth with enough energy in a single square meter to run a mid-size desktop computer-if all the sunlight could be captured and converted to electricity.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, even after passing through hundreds of kilometers of air on a clear day, solar radiation reaches Earth with enough energy in a single square meter to run a mid-size desktop computer-if all the sunlight could be captured and converted to electricity.

What type of transportation uses the most total energy?

  • Correct!

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

Which of the following is considered an obstacle to cars running on hydrogen fuel cells?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Correct!

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

What percentage of commercial building energy is used by schools?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    School buildings represent 13% of commercial buildings energy use, or about 2.5% of total U.S. energy use (13% × 19%).

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    School buildings represent 13% of commercial buildings energy use, or about 2.5% of total U.S. energy use (13% × 19%).

  • Correct!

    School buildings represent 13% of commercial buildings energy use, or about 2.5% of total U.S. energy use (13% × 19%).

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    School buildings represent 13% of commercial buildings energy use, or about 2.5% of total U.S. energy use (13% × 19%).

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Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

A unit of measure for energy, typically applied to electricity usage. It is equal to the amount of energy used at a rate of 1000 watts over the course of one hour. One kWh is roughly equal to 3,412 British Thermal Units (Btu).

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