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?

Refrigerators became 70% more efficient between 1972 and 2001, primarily due to regulation. What is a market response to increased efficiency of refrigerators?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

  • Correct!

    Refrigerators are not likely to be used more or less hours in the day, but people are more likely to have more of them if they cost less to operate.

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? 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.

Which has been growing more, energy used by lighting and appliances or energy used for heating and cooling?

  • Correct!

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

How efficient are ordinary commercial solar cell units?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Correct!

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

Which source(s) of energy are not nuclear in origin?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

  • Correct!

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun, and geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tidal energy is gravitational in origin. Solar energy comes from nuclear reactions in the sun, and geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay inside the earth.

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.

If electricity production wastes between 40 and 65% of the primary energy source, why is it used?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

  • Correct!

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

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.

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