Library – Energy glossary


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ACEEE: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

AECL: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited: A nuclear technology and engineering company that designs and develops the CANDU nuclear power reactor, as well as other advanced energy products and services.

API: An American Petroleum Institute measure of specific gravity.

Antineutrino: The antiparticles of neutrinos, are neutral particles produced in nuclear beta decay. These are emitted in beta particle emissions, where a neutron turns into a proton.

Ash: Impurities consisting of silica, iron, alumina, and other non-combustible matter that are contained in coal. Ash increases the weight of coal, adds to the cost of handling, affects the burning characteristics of the coal, and lowers its calorific value. The disposal of ash from coal-fired generating plants after combustion is costly.

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Baseload: The minimum amount of electric power delivered or required at a steady rate over a given period of time.

Bcf/d: Billion standard cubic feet per day. Standard unit of measure of natural gas and LNG production or consumption.

Bituminous Coal: The most common coal. It is dense and black (often with well-defined bands of bright and dull material). Its moisture content usually is less than 20 percent.

Bitumen: Petroleum that exists in a semisolid or solid phase in natural deposits – it is the molasses-like substance that can comprise anywhere from 1 to 18 percent of oil sands.

Barrels of Oil Equivalent: A unit of volume equal to 42 US gallons.

Boiler: A device for generating steam for power, processing, or heating purposes, or for producing hot water for heating purposes or hot water supply. Heat from an external combustion source is transmitted to a fluid contained within the tubes in the boiler shell. This fluid is delivered to an end-use at a desired pressure, temperature, and quality.

British thermal unit (Btu): The standard unit of energy used in the United States. It equals 0.9478 kilojoules.

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Calorific Value (Heat Content): The sum of latent heat and sensible heat contained in a combustible substance, above the heat contained at a specified temperature and pressure; expressed as joules per unit of volume or weight.

CANDU: Canadian Deuterium Uranium Reactor[L2]. A standardized design for nuclear generating stations developed in Canada. All nuclear generating units in Canada use the CANDU design.

Capability: The maximum load, in kilowatts or megawatts that a generating unit, generating plant, or other electrical equipment can carry under specified conditions for a given period of time without exceeding approved limits of temperature and stress.

Capacity Factor: The ratio of the electrical energy produced by a generating unit for a given period of time to the electrical energy that could have been produced at continuous full-power operation during the same period.

Capacity: The maximum power capability of a generating unit in kilowatts or megawatts.

Capital Expenditures: The amount of capital used during a particular period to acquire or improve long-term assets such as a generating unit or plant or piece of equipment.

CIPEC: Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation.

Cloud Chamber: is used for detecting particles of ionizing radiation. In its most basic form, a cloud chamber is a sealed environment containing a supercooled, supersaturated water or alcohol vapour. When an alpha particle or beta particle interacts with the mixture, it ionises it. The resulting ions act as condensation nuclei, around which a mist will form (because the mixture is on the point of condensation). The high energies of alpha and beta particles mean that a trail is left, due to many ions being produced along the path of the charged particle. These tracks have distinctive shapes (for example, an alpha particle’s track is broad and straight, while an electron’s is thinner and shows more evidence of deflection).

Coal: A black or brownish-black solid combustible substance formed by the partial decomposition of vegetable matter without access to air. The rank of coal, which includes anthracite, bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, and lignite, is based on fixed carbon, volatile matter, and calorific value.

Coal Bed Methane (CBM): Methane is generated during coal formation and is contained in the coal microstructure. Typical recovery entails pumping water out of the coal to allow the gas to escape. Methane is the principal component of natural gas. Coal bed methane can be added to natural gas pipelines without any special treatment.

Cogeneration: The simultaneous generation of electricity and another form of useful thermal energy (e.g. heat or steam) from a single energy source (e.g. natural gas, biomass) used for industrial, commercial, heating, or cooling purposes.

Conventional Crude Oil: Petroleum found in liquid form, flowing naturally or capable of being pumped without further processing or dilution.

Conservation: Steps taken to cause less energy to be used than would otherwise be the case. These steps may involve improved efficiency, avoidance of waste, reduced consumption, etc. They may involve installing equipment (such as a computer to ensure efficient energy use), modifying equipment (such as making a boiler more efficient), adding insulation, changing behaviour patterns, etc.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): A colourless, odourless, non-poisonous gas that is a normal part of the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a product of fossil-fuel combustion as well as other processes. It is considered a greenhouse gas as it traps heat (infrared energy) radiated by the earth into the atmosphere and thereby contributes to the potential for global warming.

CO2 Emissions: The release of carbon dioxide during fuel combustion.

Combustion: The combining of oxygen with other elements through a chemical reaction that generates heat. Colloquially known as burning.

Cost of Spent Fuel Storage and/or Disposal: The cost of storing and/or disposing of nuclear fuel that has been used in a nuclear reactor to the point where it can no longer produce economic power.

Cost: The amount paid to acquire resources, such as plant and equipment, fuel, and labour and other services.

Crude Oil: A mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Depending upon the characteristics of the crude stream, it may also include:

  • Small amounts of hydrocarbons that exist in gaseous phase in natural underground reservoirs but are liquid at atmospheric pressure after being recovered from oil well (casinghead) gas in lease separators and are subsequently commingled with the crude stream without being separately measured. Lease condensate recovered as a liquid from natural gas wells in lease or field separation facilities and later mixed into the crude stream is also included.
  • Small amounts of non-hydrocarbons produced with the oil, such as sulphur and various metals.
  • Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, gilsonite, and oil shale.
  • Liquids produced at natural gas processing plants are excluded. Crude oil is refined to produce a wide array of petroleum products, including heating oils; gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels; lubricants; asphalt; ethane, propane, and butane; and many other products used for their energy or chemical content.

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Deep Panuke Field: A gas field that is trapped over a carbonate reef southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The field is undergoing assessment for commercial exploitation.

Demand-Side Management (DSM): The planning, implementation, and monitoring of utility activities designed to encourage consumers to modify patterns of electricity usage, including the timing and level of electricity demand. It refers only to energy and load-shape modifying activities that are undertaken in response to utility-administered programs. It does not refer to energy and load-shaped changes arising from the normal operation of the marketplace or from government-mandated energy efficiency standards. Demand-side management covers the complete range of load-shape objectives, including strategic conservation and load management, as well as strategic load growth.

Density: The heaviness of crude oil, indicating the proportion of large, carbon-rich molecules, generally measured in kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m3) or degrees on the American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity scale; in Western Canada oil up to 900 kg/m3 is considered light to medium crude – oil above this density is deemed as heavy oil or bitumen.

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses.

Dosimeter: A radiation dosimeteris a pen-like device that measures the cumulative dose of radiation received by the device.

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Economic Life: The time period of commercial operation of an asset that is assumed for the purpose of economic and/or financial evaluation of the asset.

Efficiency: The efficiency of a generating unit in converting the thermal energy contained in a fuel source to electrical energy. It is expressed as a percentage and equals 3.6 divided by the heat rate of the unit (in GJ/MWh).

EII: Energy Innovators Initiative.

Electrical Energy: The quantity of electricity produced over a period of time. The commonly used units of electrical energy are the kilowatt-hour (kWh), megawatt-hour (MWh) and gigawatt-hour (GWh).

Electric Vehicle: A motor vehicle powered by an electric motor that draws current from rechargeable storage batteries, fuel cells, photovoltaic arrays, or other sources of electric current.

Electrical Power: The rate of delivery of electrical energy and the most frequently used measure of capacity. The typical basic units of electrical power are the kilowatt (kW) and megawatt (MW).

Elementary particles: Elementary particles refer to particles that cannot be easily recognized as a compound – in contrast to the nuclei of atoms. Within certain limits determined by the conservation rates, elementary particles can be converted.

Electromagnetic Force: The force that an electromagnetic field exerts on a charged particle; the force responsible for keeping electrons and protons in an atom.

Emissions: Anthropogenic releases of gases to the atmosphere. In the context of global climate change, they consist of important greenhouse gases (e.g. the release of carbon dioxide during fuel combustion).

Emissions Cost: The cost associated with the release or discharge of a substance into the environment; generally refers to the cost associated with the release of gases or particulates into the air.

End-User: A firm or individual that purchases products for its own consumption and not for resale (i.e. an ultimate consumer).

Energy: The capability for doing work (potential energy) or the conversion of this capability to motion (kinetic energy). Energy has several forms, some of which are easily convertible and can be changed to another form useful for work. Most of the world’s convertible energy comes from fossil fuels that are burned to produce heat that is then used as a transfer medium to mechanical or other means in order to accomplish tasks.

Energy Consumption: The amount of energy consumed in the form in which it is acquired by the user. The term excludes electrical generation and distribution losses.

Energy Demand: The requirement for energy as an input to provide products and/or services.

Energy Efficiency: Refers to reducing the energy used by specific end-use devices and systems, typically without affecting the services provided. Examples include high-efficiency appliances, efficient lighting programs, high-efficiency heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or control modifications, efficient building design, advanced electric motor drives, and heat recovery systems.

Energy Intensity: The amount of energy it takes to produce a dollar of gross domestic product.

ERCOT: Electric Reliability Council of Texas

Exajoule: Unit of energy, 1018 joules, often used as unit of measure for world annual energy use. Comparable in size to a quad (1 EJ = 0.948 quads).

Extraction: The process of separating the bitumen from the oil sands.

Expenditure: The incurrence of a liability to obtain an asset or service.

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Facility: An existing or planned location or site at which prime movers, electric generators, and/or equipment for converting mechanical, chemical, and/or nuclear energy into electric energy are, or will be, situated. A facility may contain generating units of either the same or different prime mover types.

Fast Breeder Reactors: This process allows the extraction of up to 100 times the amount of energy from uranium than is possible using light water reactors.

FBI: Federal Buildings Initiative.

FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Fossil Fuel: Any naturally occurring organic fuel, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Fossil-Fuel Unit: A generating unit using coal, oil, gas, or another fossil fuel as its source of energy.

Fuel Cell: A device capable of generating an electrical current by converting the chemical energy of a fuel (e.g. hydrogen) directly into electrical energy. Fuel cells differ from conventional electrical cells in that the active materials such as fuel and oxygen are not contained within the cell but are supplied from outside. It does not contain an intermediate heat cycle, as do most other electrical generation techniques.

Fuel Price: The price of fuel used in a generating unit, at the point of purchase. It is expressed here in dollars per gigajoule ($/GJ). In some cases, it is derived from the price of fuel expressed in dollars per unit of weight or volume (e.g. $/tonne of coal) and the corresponding calorific value (e.g. GJ/tonne).

Fuel: Any substance that can be burned to produce heat. It is also a material that can be fissioned in a nuclear reaction to produce heat.

Fuel Switching: The substitution of one type of fuel for another, especially the use of a more environmentally friendly fuel as a source of energy in place of a less environmentally friendly one.

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Gas Hydrates: Crystalline solid; its building blocks consist of a gas molecule surrounded by a cage of water molecules.

Gas (or Combustion) Turbine: A generating unit in which the prime mover is a gas turbine. A gas turbine consists typically of an axial-flow air compressor and one or more combustion chambers, where liquid or gaseous fuel is burned and the hot gases are passed to a turbine where the hot gases expand to drive a generator to produce electricity.

Geiger Counter: Geiger counters are used to detect radiation, usually alpha and beta radiation, but also other types of radiation as well. The sensor is an inert gas-filled tube (usually helium, neon or argon with halogens added) that briefly conducts electricity when a particle or photon of radiation temporarily makes the gas conductive. The tube amplifies this conduction by a cascade effect and outputs a current pulse, which is then often displayed by a needle or lamp and/or audible clicks.

Generating Unit: Any combination of physically connected reactor(s), boiler(s), combustion turbine(s), or other prime mover(s), generator(s), and auxiliary equipment operated together to produce electricity.

Generating Plant: A facility containing one or more generating units.

Generation: The process of producing electrical energy by transforming other forms of energy.

Generation Mix: Term for the diversity of generating units used to produce electricity. For example, a region’s generation mix might include 35 percent hydroelectricity, 35 percent nuclear and 30 percent coal-fired energy.

Generator: A machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Geothermal Energy: Heat stored within the earth. Once captured, such heat can be used for space heating and electricity generation.

Gigajoule (GJ): One billion joules.

Gigawatt (GW): One billion watts.

Gigawatt-Hour (GWh): One billion watt-hours.

Global Warming: The theoretical escalation of global temperatures caused by the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the lower atmosphere.

Greenhouse Effect: The increasing mean global surface temperature of the earth caused by gases in the atmosphere (including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons). The greenhouse effect allows solar radiation to penetrate but absorbs the infrared radiation returning to space.

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs): A collection of gaseous substances, primarily consisting of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxides that have been shown to warm the earth’s atmosphere by trapping solar radiation. Greenhouse gases also include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a group of chemicals used primarily in cooling systems and which are now either outlawed or severely restricted by most industrialized nations.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Total economic output in a given country.

Gross Generation: The electrical energy production of a generating plant or unit before subtracting station service, expressed in megawatt-hours (MWh) or gigawatt-hours (GWh).

Grid: The layout of an electrical transmission and/or distribution system.

Gross National Product (GNP): GDP plus local ownership share of GDP in the rest of the world less rest of the world’s ownership share of local GDP.

Gypsum: Calcium sulphate, a mineral used for wallboard and as a soil amendment in consolidated tails technology.

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Heat Content: (See Calorific Value.)

Heat Rate: A measure of the efficiency of energy conversion of a generating unit or plant. It is the ratio of the heat content of the fuel used (expressed in kJ or Btu) in the unit or plant to kWh of net electrical energy produced.

Heavy Oil: Dense, viscous oil, with a high proportion of bitumen, which is difficult to extract with conventional techniques and is more costly to refine.

Heavy water: Water that has had its hydrogen atoms replaced with the hydrogen isotope deuterium. Use: nuclear reactors. D2O

Hibernia: The Hibernia field, which was discovered in 1979, is located about 315 kilometres east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 80 metres of water. A fixed production platform, consisting of a Gravity Base Structure (GBS) and Topsides drilling and production facilities, has been installed to produce the field.

Hydrocarbons: A large class of liquid, solid, or gaseous organic compounds, containing only carbon and hydrogen, which are the basis of almost all petroleum products.

Hydroelectric Power: Electricity produced by falling water that turns a turbine generator. Also referred to as hydro.

Hydrogen: A colourless, odourless, highly flammable gaseous element. It is the lightest of all gases and the most abundant element in the universe, occurring chiefly in combination with oxygen in water and also in acids, bases, alcohols, petroleum, and other hydrocarbons.

Hydrophilic: Describes a substance that attracts, dissolves in, or absorbs water.

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IEA: International Energy Agency.

In Situ: In its original place; in position; in situ recovery refers to various methods used to recover deeply buried bitumen deposits, including steam injection, solvent injection, and firefloods.

Installed Capacity: The capacity measured at the output terminals of all the generating units in a plant, before deducting power requirements for station service.

Integrated Gasification-Combined Cycle Technology (IGCC): Coal, water, and oxygen are fed to gasifier, which produces syngas. This medium-Btu gas is cleaned (particulates and sulphur compounds removed) and is fed to a gas turbine. The hot exhaust of the gas turbine and heat recovered from the gasification process are routed through a heat-recovery generator to produce steam, which drives a steam turbine to produce electricity.

Intermediate Load: The range of power system loads between baseload and peak load.

Intermittent Power Source: A generator, such as a wind turbine, whose output may vary considerably over short periods due to the variability and unpredictability of its external energy source.

Isotopes: Atoms of an element that differ only by the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

IUPAC: International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

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Joule: The international unit of energy. It is the energy produced by the power of one watt operating for one second. At 100 percent efficiency, there are 3.6 megajoules in a kilowatt-hour (or 3.6 gigajoules in a megawatt-hour).

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Kilowatt (kW): A standard unit used to measure electric power, equal to 1,000 watts. A kilowatt can be visualized as the total amount of power required to light ten 100-watt light bulbs.

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh): A standard unit for measuring electrical energy.

Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol is a proposed amendment to an international treaty on global warming – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol will commit to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are linked to global warming.

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Light Fuel Oil: Lighter fuel oils distilled off during the refining process. Virtually all petroleum products used in internal combustion and gas turbines are light fuel oil.

Light water: In the terminology of nuclear reactors, is ordinary water. Light water reactors are simpler and cheaper than heavy water reactors, and although they have the same power-generating capabilities, it is far more difficult to use them to produce weapons-grade plutonium, as the reactor must be shut down and the fuel rods replaced every 4 months because if it stays in any longer, the plutonium-240 concentration will get too high and poison the plutonium-239. A disadvantage of light water reactors is that they must use enriched uranium, while heavy water reactors can use natural uranium.

Lignite: A brownish-black coal of low rank with high inherent moisture and volatile matter content.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): Natural gas (primarily methane) that has been liquefied by reducing its temperature to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit at atmospheric pressure.

Load: The amount of electricity demand at any specific point or points on a power system. The amount originates at the energy-using equipment of consumers.

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Megawatt (MW): One million watts.

Megawatt-Hour (MWh): One million watt-hours.

MMbbl/d: Millions of barrels per day. Unit of measure of crude oil and petroleum products.

MMBtu: Millions of British thermal units.

Mcf: Millions of cubic feet. Unit of measure of natural gas and gas products.

Mtoe: Millions of tonnes oil equivalent.

Muskeg: A water-soaked layer of decaying plant material, one to three metres thick, found on top of the overburden.

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NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement.

Nameplate Capacity: The full-load continuous rating of a generator, prime mover, or other electric power production equipment, under specific conditions as designated by the manufacturer. Installed nameplate rating is usually indicated on a nameplate physically attached to the piece of equipment.

Natural Gas: A naturally occurring mixture of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon gases found in porous geological formations beneath the earth’s surface, often in association with petroleum. The principal constituent is methane. It is used as a fuel in boilers and gas turbines for electricity generation.

NERC: North American Electricity Reliability Council.

Net Capability: The maximum ability of a generating unit or plant, under specified conditions, to meet electricity demand. It is the capability of the generating equipment minus station service. It is usually expressed in megawatts (MW).

Net Generation: Gross generation of a generating unit or plant minus station service, expressed in megawatt-hours (MWh) or gigawatt-hours (GWh).

Neutrino: Neutrinos are elementary particles that travel close to the speed of light, lack an electric charge, are able to pass through ordinary matter almost undisturbed and are thus extremely difficult to detect. Neutrinos are created as a result of certain types of radioactive decay or nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the sun, in nuclear reactors, or when cosmic rays hit atoms.

Neutron: Electrically neutral elementary particle that is part of the nucleus of the atom. Elementary particles are the smallest parts of matter that scientists can isolate. The neutron is about 10-13 cm in diameter and weighs 1.6749 x 10-27 kg.

NRCan: Natural Resources Canada.

Nuclear Electric Power (Nuclear Power): Electricity generated by the use of the thermal energy released from the fission of nuclear fuel in a reactor.

Nuclear Fission: The process of splitting atoms or fissioning them.

Nuclear Fuel: Fissionable materials that have been enriched to such a composition that, when placed in a nuclear reactor, will support a self-sustaining fission chain reaction, producing heat in a controlled manner for process use.

Nuclear Power Plant: A generating plant in which heat produced in a nuclear reactor by the fissioning of nuclear fuel is used to drive a steam turbine.

Nuclear Reactor: A device in which a fission chain reaction can be initiated, maintained, and controlled. Nuclear reactors are used in the power industry to produce steam used for the generation of electricity.

Nuclide: Any atom with a unique number of protons and neutrons: nuclides sharing the same number of protons but having different numbers of neutrons are called Isotopes (see “Isotopes“)

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OECD: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Oil Sand: Sand containing bitumen.

OPEC: Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

Overburden: Layer of rocky, clay-like material that lies under muskeg.

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Peak Load Plant (or Unit): A generating plant (or unit) that normally operates intermittently during the hours of highest (peak) daily, weekly, or seasonal power system loads.

Peaking Capacity: Capacity of generating equipment normally reserved for operation during peak load periods.

Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX): Largest company in Mexico and the world’s seventh largest petroleum company.

Petroleum: A naturally occurring mixture composed predominantly of hydrocarbons in the gaseous, liquid, or solid phase.

Petroleum Administration for Defence District (PADD): A geographic aggregation of the 50 states and the District of Columbia into five districts, with PADD I further split into three sub-districts. The PADDs include the states listed below:

  • PADD I (East Coast):
  • PADD IA (New England): Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • PADD IB (Central Atlantic): Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
  • PADD IC (Lower Atlantic): Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • PADD II (Midwest): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
  • PADD III (Gulf Coast): Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.
  • PADD IV (Rocky Mountain): Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • PADD V (West Coast): Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Photovoltaic (PV) Cells: Convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Plasma: A “Fourth State of Matter” in which many of the atoms or molecules are ionized. Plasmas have unique properties compared to solids, liquids, and gases. Most plasmas can be thought of at first as extremely hot gases, but their properties are generally quite different. Some (but not all!) Examples: the sun, fluorescent light bulbs and other gas-discharge tubes, very hot flames, much of interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic space, the earth’s ionosphere, parts of the atmosphere around lightning discharges, and of course fusion plasmas.

Positron: The antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. Positrons may be generated by positron emission radioactive decay.

Power: The rate at which energy is produced. Electrical energy is usually measured in watts.

Power System: All the physically interconnected facilities of an electrical utility, or a number of interconnected utilities. A power system includes all the generation, transmission, distribution, transformation, and protective components necessary to provide service to consumers.

Price: The amount of money or consideration-in-kind for which a good or service is bought, sold, or offered for sale.

Primary Energy: Energy embodied in natural resources (e.g. coal, crude oil, sunlight, uranium) that has not undergone any anthropogenic conversion or transformation.

Prime Mover: The engine, turbine, water wheel, or similar machine that drives an electric generator.

Profit: The income remaining after all business expenses are paid.

Protons: Elementary particle that carries a positive electric charge and, along with the electron and the neutron, is one of the building blocks of all atoms. Elementary particles are the smallest parts of matter that scientists can isolate. The proton is one of the few elementary particles that is stable—that is, it can exist by itself for a long period of time. (See ‘elementary particle‘).

Proved Energy Reserves: Estimated quantities of energy sources that analysis of geologic and engineering data demonstrates with reasonable certainty are recoverable under existing economic and operating conditions. The location, quantity, and grade of the energy source are usually considered to be well established in such reserves.

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Quad: Quadrillion (10 to the 15th power) BTU’s.

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Radioactive nuclides / radionuclides: Is an atom with an unstable nucleus. The radionuclide undergoes radioactive decay by emitting a gamma ray(s) and/or subatomic particles.

Radionuclides are often referred to by chemists and biologists as radioactive isotopes or radioisotopes, and play an important part in the technologies that provide us with food, water and good health. Radionuclides may occur naturally, but can also be artificially produced.

Radioactive Waste: Materials left over from making nuclear energy. Radioactive waste can destroy living organisms if it is not stored safely.

Radioisotopes: Isotopes of an element (see “Isotopes“) that are unstable and radioactively decay.

Refinery: An installation that manufactures finished petroleum products from crude oil, unfinished oils, natural gas liquids, other hydrocarbons, and oxygenates.

Renewable Energy: Any sources or resources of energy that constantly renew themselves through natural processes, that can be renewed artificially, or that are regarded as practically inexhaustible. These include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and wood resources. Although particular geothermal formations can be depleted, the natural heat in the earth is a virtually inexhaustible reserve of potential energy. Renewable resources also include some experimental or less-developed sources such as tidal power, sea currents, and ocean thermal gradients.

Residuum: A residual product from the processor distillation of hydrocarbons.

Resources for the Future (RFF): A think tank in Washington, D.C.

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Separative Work Unit (SWU): A standard measure of uranium enrichment services.

Security of Supply: Policy that considers the risk of dependence on fuel sources located in remote and unstable regions of the world and the benefits of domestic and diverse fuel sources.

SMD: Standard market design.

Spent Fuel: Nuclear fuel removed from a reactor following irradiation, no longer usable in its current form because of depletion of fissile material, poison build-up or radiation damage.

Station Service: The electric energy used in the operation of a generating plant or unit. This energy is subtracted from the gross generation to obtain net generation.

Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD): A recovery technique for extraction of heavy oil or bitumen that involves drilling a pair of horizontal wells one above the other; one well is used for steam injection and the other for production.

Steam-Electric Unit: A plant in which the prime mover is a steam turbine. The steam used to drive the turbine is generated in a boiler where fossil fuels are burned, or by heat produced in a nuclear reactor by the fissioning of nuclear fuel.

Strong Force: The force within an atom required to keep the neutrons and protons inside the nucleus.

Sub-Bituminous Coal: Sub-bituminous coal, or black lignite, is dull black and generally contains 20 to 30 percent moisture.

Sunk Cost: A cost that was incurred in the past and cannot be altered by any current or future decision.

Sustainability: Indicator selected with the aim to provide information on the essence of sustainable development; it may refer to systemic characteristics such as carrying capacities of the environment, or it may refer to interrelations between economy, society, and the environment.

Synthetic Crude Oil: A mixture of hydrocarbons, similar to crude oil, derived by upgrading bitumen from oil sands.

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Tailings: A combination of water, sand, silt, and fine clay particles that are a by-product of removing the bitumen from oil sands.

Tcf: Trillions of cubic feet.

Thermal Efficiency: The percentage of total energy content of a fuel that is converted to useful output. The ratio of useful work (or energy output) to total work (or energy input).

Tight Sands: Low-permeability gas.

Toe-to-Heal Air Injection (THAI): A process that uses air injection and subsurface combustion to increase mobility in the reservoir.

Tokamak: It is a Russian acronym for “toroidal chamber with axial magnetic field.” : a toroidal device for producing controlled nuclear fusion that involves the confining and heating of a gaseous plasma by means of an electric current and magnetic field.

TPES: Total primary energy supply.

Turbine: A machine for generating rotary mechanical power from the energy of a stream of fluid (such as water, steam, or hot gas). Turbines convert the kinetic energy of fluids to mechanical energy through the principles of impulse or reaction, or a mixture of the two.

TWh: Terawatt-hours (billions of kilowatt-hours).

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Unit (or Plant) Availability: The number of hours a generating unit is available to produce power (regardless of the amount of power) in a given period, compared to the number of hours in the period.

Upgrading: The process of converting heavy oil or bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

Uranium (U): A heavy, naturally radioactive, metallic element (atomic number 92). Its two principally occurring isotopes are uranium-235 and uranium-238. Uranium-235 is indispensable to the nuclear industry because it is the only isotope existing in nature, to any appreciable extent, that is fissionable by thermal neutrons. Uranium-238 is also important because it absorbs neutrons to produce a radioactive isotope that subsequently decays to the isotope plutonium-239, which also is fissionable by thermal neutrons.

US EIA: United States Energy Information Administration.

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Vapour Extraction: The use of solvents to reduce bitumen viscosity in situ.

Viscosity: The resistance to flow or “stickiness” of a fluid.

Volatility: In financial matters, volatility of returns is the measurement used to define risk. The greater the volatility, the higher the risk.

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Watt: The standard unit of electrical power. One watt is equal to one joule per second. It also equals one ampere flowing under a pressure of one volt at unit power factor.

Watt-Hour (Wh): The standard unit of electrical energy. It is equal to one watt of power operating steadily for one hour.

WCSB: Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.

WECC: Western Electricity Coordinating Council.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI): A grade of crude oil that has its main delivery point in Cushing, OK. The spot price for WTI delivered Cushing is the ultimate settlement price for the NYMEX oil futures contract.

Wholesale Power Market: The purchase and sale of electricity from generators to resellers (who sell to retail customers) along with the ancillary services needed to maintain security of service and power quality at the transmission level.

Wholesale Price: The price of energy supplied to electric utilities and other power producers.

Wind Generator: A generator that obtains its power from wind turning a wind turbine.

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CANDU is the acronym for Canadian Deuterium Uranium, does not include the reactor.