Energy Glossary

Alternating current (AC) – A type of electrical current that reverses directions at regular recurring intervals or cycles. In North America, the standard is 60 cycles, or 60Hz per second. 

Base load – The minimum amount of electric power that a utility must supply over a given period of time.

Capacity – The power output rating of a generator, typically measured in megawatts.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) – A non-toxic gas produced from the burning of fossil fuels as well as other processes. Carbon Dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas.

Cogeneration – The production of both electricity and useful thermal energy from the same energy source.

Demand-side management – All activities undertaken by a utility that reduces or curtails end-use energy demand. DSM is usually used to reduce customer load during peak demand or at times of supply constraint.

Direct current – A type of electrical current that flows in one direction, usually at a relatively low voltage and high current.

Distribution – A system of lines, transformers, and switches that transport electricity to customer load points such as homes and businesses.

District heating – Steam or hot water from an outside source used as a heat source in a building. The steam or hot water is usually produced by a utility at a central plant and piped into a building or multiple buildings.

Electricity – A fundamental form of energy that is expressed in terms of the movement and interaction of electrons. Electricity is typically produced at a central plant or from distributed sources such as solar panels.

Electric utility – A corporation or other entity that is responsible for the production and distribution of electricity. Nunavut’s electric utility is the Qulliq Energy Corporation.

Fossil Fuels – Energy source formed by decaying organic material (plant and animal matter) within the earth’s crust. Common fossil fuels are oils, coal, and natural gas.

Geothermal energy – Energy generated from heat found in the earth’s crust, usually in form of water or steam.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) – Those gases that prevent heat radiation from leaving the earth’s atmosphere, thus warming the planet’s surface. Common GHGs include: carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons.

Hydropower – The use of flowing or falling water from streams or lakes to produce electrical energy. Hydropower is a renewable resource.

Joule(J) – Unit of work or energy, equal to the work done by the force of one newton acting through the distance of on meter. A gigajoule (GJ) is equal to 1,000,000,000 joules.

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) – A measure of electricity defined as a unit of power (kilowatt) supplied continuously for one hour. Used as a unit for pricing electricity (i.e. Iqaluit residential rate payers are charged $0.6029/kWh).

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) – Natural gas that is temporarily converted to a liquid form for ease of storage and/or transport. Natural gas is converted to a liquid by cooling it to approximately -162 degrees Celsius.

Megawatt-Hour (MWh) – A megawatt-hour is equal to 1000 kWh or 1,000,000 watt-hours.

Natural Gas – Anaturally occurring gas that is primarilyconstituted of methane. Natural gas can be used to produce electricity, heat, or motive power.

Net-metering – Net metering is a program and billing practice that allows electricity consumers to produce their own electricity and use it to offset all or a portion of their electricity bill.

Nuclear Power – A facility in which heat produced in a reactor by the fissioning of nuclear fuel is used to drive a steam turbine.

Peak demand (load) – The point in time in which an electrical system experiences its highest demand. On a daily basis, typical peak demand occurs during the early evening or afternoon.

Petroleum Products Revolving Fund (PPRF) – The Revolving Fund provides the financial resources necessary for PPD to purchase and distribute refined petroleum products to customers in Nunavut. PPD is required by legislation to recover advances from the Revolving Fund through retail sales, operating on a ‘break-even’ basis. The Revolving Fund operates similar to a commercial line of credit.

Petroleum Products Stabilization Fund – The purpose of this fund is to stabilize the prices of petroleum productswhich often fluctuate due to volatile world energy markets. As such, the Stabilization Fund accumulates the profits or losses incurred by the PPRF, up to $10 million. The Stabilization Fund operates similar to a Retained Earnings Account.

Power grid – The network of transmission and distribution lines designed to deliver electricity to a region.

Power purchase agreement – A contract involving the purchase and sale of electricity, normally executed between a private power generating facility and a regulated electrical utility.

Primary energy – Energy sources that are found in their natural state, prior to any conversion. Examples of primary energy are coal, oil, sunlight, and wind.

Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC)– – Nunavut’s electric utility and sole provider of electricity in the territory. QEC is wholly owned by the Government of Nunavut.

Renewable Energy – Energy sources that are naturally occurring and continuously replenish. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric are examples of renewable energy sources.

Run-of-river plant – A hydroelectric plant which depends on the flow of a river or stream for power generation.Differs from a storage-based plant such a hydroelectric dam.

Secondary energy – Energy sources that are created as a result of the conversion of primary energy. Examples of secondary energy include electricity and heat.

Solar energy – Primary energy from the Sun in the form of radiation and heat. Solar energy can be harnessed and transformed into electricity or a heat source.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) – A device consisting of semiconducting materials that is capable of converting solar energy into electricity.

Thermal Generation – The production of electricity from plants that convert heat energy into electrical energy. The heat in thermal plants can be produced from sources such as coal, oil, or gas.

Uranium – A naturally radioactive, metallic element. Uranium (specifically uranium-235) is the primary fuel for nuclear energy.

Voltage – The electrical force or pressure that causes current to flow in a circuit, measured in volts.

Watt – A unit for measuring electrical power. One watt is equal to the energy consumption rate of one joule per second.

Wind Energy – The kinetic energy present in wind motion that can be converted into mechanical energy to drive pumps or electricity generators.

Energy Tips

Replace standard light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, which use 75% less energy and last up to ten times longer.


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