Glossary

This glossary explains the most relevant and current terms related to the energy sector, so that you are always aware of the latest concepts that define our present and future energy.

 

 

Alternative fuels


 

Alternative fuels are fuels that are presented as an option to traditional fossil fuels. They are obtained from renewable sources or from waste. Examples include hydrogen, methane and non-fossil natural gas, vegetable oil, propane, biomass and chemically stored electricity (batteries and fuel cells).

 

 

Biodiversity


 

Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words “biological” and “diversity”. It refers to all variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms) as well as the communities they form and the habitats they live in.

 

 

Biogas


 

Biogas is the gas obtained from the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter present in municipal solid waste, wastewater and agricultural, livestock or forestry waste. It is a renewable, local and storable source of energy supply, with a positive impact on employment and the rural economy. After cleaning and separation of CO2, biogas is converted into biomethane, a fully renewable gas suitable for transmission by gas pipelines.

 

Biomass


 

Biomass is organic matter that comes from plants and animals. It is a renewable energy source. The sun provides energy to biomass. Plants absorb energy from the sun in a process called photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, its chemical energy is released as heat. Today we have four types of biomass: wood and agricultural products, solid waste, landfill gas and biogas, and alcohol fuels (such as ethanol or biodiesel).

                                                                                                            

Biomethane


 

Biomethane is the renewable green energy obtained from cleaning (upgrading) biogas. Its use is already a reality in injection into the gas pipeline network, as a vehicle fuel or for use in industry. It is a gas formed mainly by methane and CO2.

 

Carbon footprint


 

The carbon footprint is an environmental indicator that reflects the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted directly or indirectly by an individual, organisation, event or product. It is measured in terms of mass of CO2 equivalent and enables the amount of GHGs released into the atmosphere as a result of any activity to be identified.
 

Carbon neutrality


 

Carbon neutrality involves accounting for and reducing CO2 emissions throughout the value chain and offsetting unavoidable emissions with natural carbon sinks and/or carbon credits (zero or neutral balance).

 

Carbon dioxide (CO2)


 

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colourless, odourless gas with a density of approximately 1.5 times that of air. It is a carbon atom with a double covalent bond to two oxygen atoms. It is soluble in water and can therefore be naturally found in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in oil and natural gas deposits. Since the industrial revolution, the atmospheric concentration of this gas has increased significantly, aggravating global warming. Solutions are currently being studied to capture it and store it in geological formations, or convert it into products of interest in order to reduce emissions.

 

Circular economy


 

According to Forética, this is the economic model that differs from the traditional linear model – for a model that is regenerative by design. The goal is to retain the highest possible value of resources, products, parts and materials to create a system that allows for longevity, optimal reuse, conditioning, remanufacturing and recycling. Companies implementing the circular economy focus on rethinking products and services using principles based on durability, renovation, reuse, repair, replacement, upgrading, conditioning and reduced use of materials. By applying these principles, companies can design waste management, increase resource productivity and decouple growth from the consumption of natural resources.

 

Climate change


Climate change is the variation of the Earth’s climate. 

The main cause of climate change is global warming, which is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere after more than a century and a half of large-scale industrialisation, deforestation and farming. 

Scientists have found that the Earth’s surface is warming, and many of the warmest years on record have been in the last 20 years.

The effects of climate change include extreme weather events, desertification, flooding due to rising sea levels, species extinction and mass migration.

There are international agreements to tackle climate change such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Conference of the Parties (COP).

 

 

Electrical energy


 

Electrical energy is energy generated by the movement of electrical charges (electrons) inside conductive materials, such as a copper electrical cable. Electricity is the most widely used form of energy today. The electricity we use is a secondary energy source because it is obtained by converting primary energy sources such as coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, solar energy and wind energy into electrical energy.

 

Electrolysis


Electrolysis is a chemical process in which the action of a continuous electrical current causes a substance or a body immersed in a solution to break down. We use electrolysis to obtain oxygen and hydrogen from water. But it has many different applications. For example, it is used to produce hydrogen and has multiple uses as a fuel or for industrial applications. It is also used to produce aluminium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc.

 

Energy efficiency


 

Energy efficiency refers to the efficient use of energy. A device or installation is more energy efficient the less energy it consumes to perform an activity. An efficient person, service or product requires less energy to perform the same work.  

 

Energy sustainability


 

According to the World Energy Council, energy sustainability is the balance between three main dimensions: energy security, social equity, and the mitigation of environmental impact. The idea is to bring the concept of sustainable balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions to the energy level, recognising that energy is key and basic for the development of any society.

The development of stable, accessible and environmentally sustainable energy systems requires complex interconnections between the public and private sectors, governments and regulators, the economy, available resources, legal regulations, environmental concerns and the individual and collective behaviour of societies.

 

Energy transition


 

The energy transition refers to the evolution of the economy towards parameters compatible with environmental limits. It is a term that refers to the path that countries must take in order to comply with an objective: the decarbonisation of the economy to ensure the achievement of the commitments made to the EU and in the Paris Agreement.

 

Energy vector


 

An energy vector is considered to be a substance or device capable of storing energy that can subsequently be released in a controlled manner. Batteries, cells and condensers are examples of energy vectors. As are electricity and hydrogen, which is currently presented as the energy vector of the future to achieve total decarbonisation.

 

Green hydrogen


 

Renewable hydrogen or green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water from renewable electric energy, such as solar or wind. This process does not emit CO2 and transforms water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Thus, it is an effective solution for promoting the decarbonisation of all sectors (mobility, industry and service sector). The major advantage of green hydrogen is that it allows the decarbonisation of non-electrifiable sectors, opening the door to carbon neutrality. It can be used as a molecule (fuel in industry, etc.), and not only as an electric current, while renewable electric energies cannot cover all these needs.

 

 Greenhouse effect


 

Progressive increase in temperature that occurs because there is an excess of solar radiation on the earth’s surface and in the lower layers of the atmosphere, which, unable to escape, remains trapped in the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases are naturally present on the planet. But human action increases their concentration. These gases undergo minor fluctuations, which cause variations in temperature that significantly affect the balance of ecosystems.

We call this the greenhouse effect because the atmosphere acts as a greenhouse for the Earth, letting in light, but retaining heat.

 

Hydrogen


 

Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table and the lightest in existence. Its atom is formed by a proton and an electron and is stable in the form of a diatomic molecule (H2). Under normal conditions it is in a gaseous state, and is tasteless, colourless and odourless.

It is the most abundant element on Earth. It constitutes approximately 75% of matter in the Universe, but it is combined with other elements such as oxygen, to form water molecules, or carbon, forming organic compounds. It is not, therefore, a fuel that can be taken directly from nature, but it is an energy vector (like electricity).

 

Hydrogen Road Map


 

The “Hydrogen Roadmap: a commitment to renewable hydrogen” is the document approved by the Council of Ministers to promote the deployment of this sustainable energy vector, which will be key for Spain to achieve climate neutrality, with a 100% renewable electricity system, by 2050 at the latest.

 

Hydrogen station


 

Hydrogen stations are service stations that supply hydrogen to vehicles that use this fuel. At the moment, there are five hydrogen stations in Spain located in Seville, Zaragoza, Huesca, Albacete and Puertollano, although they are not for public use. The Hydrogen Road Map approved by the Spanish Government sets out a plan to implement a network with a minimum of 100 hydrogen stations by 2030.

 

Just Transition Strategy


 

The Just Transition Strategy is one of the three pillars of the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework approved by the Spanish Government in 2019. It aims to optimise the employment outcomes of the Ecological Transition and to ensure that people and regions make the most of the opportunities of this transition and that no one is left behind.

The Just Transition Strategy includes different measures and instruments. Focusing on the decarbonisation process, the Strategy includes the Urgent Action Plan for Coal-mining Regions and Power Plant Closures between 2019-2021, which aims to respond to the closure of mining operations, coal-fired power stations and nuclear plants. 

The Just Transition Agreements were created to achieve this objective, and apply to territories where closures could cause problems for businesses and economic activity.

These Agreements aim to maintain employment and the creation of activity in these territories by supporting sectors and groups at risk, encouraging the population to stay, and promoting diversification and specialisation consistent with the socio-economic context.

 

LNG


 

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is liquid natural gas cooled to a temperature of approximately -160ºC for transport and storage. The volume of natural gas in the liquid state is approximately 600 times less than in the gaseous state.

 

Nitrogen oxides (NOx)


 

NOx refers to a group of gases containing nitrogen and oxygen in various proportions, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO) etc. They are highly reactive compounds. Vehicles, industry and other sectors involved in the burning of fossil fuels are currently the main sources of NOx emissions. Nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of photochemical ozone (smog) in the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming, and can also cause acid rain and have harmful consequences for health. 


  

Renewable energy


 

Renewable energy is a type of energy that can be obtained from virtually inexhaustible natural sources, as they contain an immense amount of energy or can be regenerated naturally. The sun, wind, waterfalls and biomass are examples of renewable energy sources.

 

Renewable gases


 

These are combustible gases that are considered neutral in terms of CO2 emissions. They are produced from the decomposition of organic matter present in municipal solid waste, wastewater and agricultural, livestock or forestry waste (e.g. biomethane); or from water electrolysis using renewable energies (e.g. green hydrogen). The term renewable gas generally refers to biogas, biomethane, green hydrogen and synthetic natural gas (SNG).

 

SDG


 

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals represent the most ambitious action plan for people, the planet and prosperity for 2030. They are composed of 17 goals related to the major challenges faced by humanity.

The UN presents these 17 Sustainable Development Goals as “the master plan for a sustainable future for all”. The 17 goals have been included in the 2030 Agenda, given the vital importance of overcoming each and every one of them before that date (2030).

This agenda places business alongside states and civil society as agents of development and provides a universal and coherent framework to guide their contributions to sustainability and the creation of shared value.

 

Solar energy 


 

Solar energy is obtained from the solar radiation that reaches the earth in the form of light, heat or ultraviolet rays. It is a clean and renewable energy, as the sun is an unlimited resource. There are three ways of harnessing solar energy: photovoltaic solar energy, which transforms sunlight into electrical energy; thermal solar energy, which captures radiation through elements called collectors or concentrators; and passive solar energy, which consists of adapting a building so that it can use solar energy for heating or cooling.

 

Sustainable mobility


 

Sustainable mobility is the set of processes and actions aimed at achieving the rational use of means of transport, both by individuals and professionals. We talk about sustainable mobility as a model that promotes transport using low or zero-carbon systems, which, in addition to being healthy, contributes to the quality of urban life and collective well-being, as well as the creation of comfortable public spaces that allow for better citizen coexistence.

 

Sustainable development


 

Sustainable development is development that states societies should live and satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the resources of future generations to meet their own needs.

 

Wind energy 


 

Wind energy is energy obtained from the wind or from air flows that occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. Modern wind turbines transform the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity. It is a clean and renewable energy, as its source is the wind, and as with the sun, it is an unlimited resource.