Getting to Know Green Energy: Key Terms to Know

May 10, 2018
Read time: 4 minutes

Sustainable energy is one of those hot-button terms you hear nowadays. But there are tons of other terms surrounding sustainability that we think are incredibly important to add to your vocabulary.

Below, we’ve got some definitions with some links out to articles and web resources where you can get more information. Have one you want to add? Send us an email at

Biomass: Living materials, like wood or vegetation, that can be used to produce fuel.

Carbon Dioxide: A naturally occurring gas. It is a by-product of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as land-use changes and other industrial processes. It is the reference gas that other greenhouse gases are measured.

Carbon Emissions: The polluting carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions that are released into the atmosphere and add to the greenhouse effect.

Carbon Footprint: An estimate of how much carbon dioxide is produced to support your lifestyle – i.e. your impact on the climate.

Climate Change: Any significant change in measurements of climate (temperature, precipitation, wind) that lasts for an extended period of time.

Coal: A combustible black, or brownish-black sedimentary rock with a high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. It takes millions of years to form and contains the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy forests.

Crude Oil: A mixture of hydrocarbons that formed from plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. It exists in liquid form in underground pools or reservoirs, in tiny spaces within sedimentary rocks, and near the surface in tar sands. 

Fossil Fuel: Fuel formed over millions of years by buried plant and animal remains. As the remains are buried deeper over time, heat and pressure transform them into fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or natural gas.

Geothermal Energy: Electricity that is generated by harnessing hot water or steam from within the earth.

Greenhouse Effect: The exchange of incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the Earth. The greenhouse effect, combined with increasing levels of greenhouse gases and the resulting global warming, is expected to have profound implications.

Greenhouse Gas: Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Hydropower Energy: The largest renewable energy source for electricity generation in the U.S., hydropower is produced from moving water.

Natural Gas: A gas that occurs deep beneath the earth’s surface, consisting mostly of methane and small amounts of hydrocarbon gas liquids and nonhydrocarbon gases.

Nonrenewable Resource: A resource that is depleted with use or cannot be used again.

Ozone Layer: The layer that shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Natural events, such as volcanoes and solar flares can produce changes in ozone construction, but man-made changes are of the greatest concern.

Renewable Energy: Generally refers to electricity supplied from renewable resources.

Renewable Resource: A resource – like wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass – that can be used repeatedly without affecting the supply.

Solar Power (radiant energy): The use of energy given off by the sun’s rays using solar photovoltaic systems to convert sunlight into electricity.

Sustainable: Meeting the needs of the present without diminishing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Also means that human practices do not result in the permanent damage, alteration, or depletion of the environment, ecosystems, species, or natural resources.

Uranium (nuclear energy): The fuel most widely used by nuclear plants for nuclear fission.

Wind Energy: Energy created by the uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun, which creates the daily wind cycle.

Now that you know the lingo, it’s time to take some action.

At IGS Energy, we know that good planets are hard to find. That’s why we’re doing our part to take care of our planet. By offering our go green electricity products, educational resources, and more ideas on how to live a more sustainable life, we hope to help our customers reduce carbon emissions, create better public health, and reduce our negative impact on the future of the planet.

Click here to learn more!