Home » Energy Technologies » Glossary

Energy Technologies Scenarios to 2050


Glossary over Energy Technologies


Originating from the activity of humans. (Source: GreenFacts )


The study of the chemical processes and compounds occurring in living organisms. (Source: American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Glossary  )


Biofuels are non-fossil fuels. They are energy carriers that store the energy derived from organic materials (biomass), including plant materials and animal waste.

They may be solid, such as fuelwood, charcoal and wood pellets; liquid, such as ethanol, biodiesel and pyrolysis oils; or gaseous, such as biogas. (Source: GreenFacts)



The total quantity or mass of organic material produced by living organisms in a particular area, at a given time. (Source: GreenFacts)


Carbon dioxide (CO2)

A colorless, odorless, non-combustible gas, present in low concentrations in the air we breathe (about three hundredths of one percent by volume).

Carbon dioxide is produced when any substance containing carbon is burned. It is also a product of breathing and fermentation. Plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. (Source: The Pacific Forest Trust Glossary )


Climate change

The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other aspects of the Earth's climate.

It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

Fossil fuel(s)

A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change terms  )

Greenhouse gas

Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds.

This property causes the greenhouse effect.

Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine and bromine containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). (Source: IPCC Glossary  )

Gross Domestic Product

The total market value of goods and services produced within a nation during a given period (usually 1 year).


Hybrid vehicle

A vehicle that utilizes both an electrical motor and a gas- or diesel-powered engine which work in tandem to decrease fuel consumption. (Source: MCI's Go Green Glossary  )

IEA scenarios

The International Energy Agency has developped a number of scenarios that describe the efforts needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The "business-as-usual" Baseline scenario foreshadows the situation in the absence of policy change and major supply constraints leading to increases in oil demand and CO2 emissions.

Other scenarios explore different technological pathways to achieve emission reductions, and, the "Energy technology perspectives" report groups the scenarios into two main subgroups, depending on emission reduction objectives:

The "ACT" scenarios bring back CO2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2050 through a number of technological developpments.

The "BLUE" scenarios are more ambitious, bringing emissions at 50% of the 2005 level by 2050. This implies of course higher investment costs, but also greater needs in technological and policy developments. (Source: GreenFacts, based on  Energy Technology Perspectives 2008 )

Institute for environmental assessment

"IEA is committed to provide practical, cost-sensitive environmental engineering counsel and worker protection guidelines for private and public organizations." (Source: IEA )

Institute for the encouragement of Scientific Research and Innovation of Brussels

"ISRIB, which was instituted by the Brussels decree of 26 June 2003, began its activites on 1st July 2004.

The mission of the Institute is to promote, support and valorize scientific research and technological innovation in the Brussels-Capital Region.

This task consists principally in funding research projects undertaken within the companies, the universities and the higher education institutes located in the Region." (Source: ISRIB website )

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)

Power plant using gas produced from high-sulfur coal, heavy petroleum residues or biomass.

IGCC is an advanced power generation technology which allows to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2, and particulate matter and improve fuel efficiency of coal.

It is a combination of two technologies.

  • coal gasification, which uses coal to create a clean-burning gas (syngas).
  • combined-cycle, which is the most efficient method of producing electricity from gas commercially available today (a gas turbine generator generates electricity and the waste heat is used to make steam to generate additional electricity via a steam turbine).
(Source: GreenFacts)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

IPCC publications are prepared by three Working Groups (WG I, II and III) composed of hundreds of scientists from many countries. (Source: IPCC website  )

International Energy Agency

"The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an intergovernmental organisation which acts as energy policy advisor to 28 member countries in their effort to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens.

Founded during the oil crisis of 1973-74, the IEA’s initial role was to co-ordinate measures in times of oil supply emergencies. As energy markets have changed, so has the IEA. Its mandate has broadened to incorporate the “Three E’s” of balanced energy policy making: energy security, economic development and environmental protection. Current work focuses on climate change policies, market reform, energy technology collaboration and outreach to the rest of the world, especially major consumers and producers of energy like China, India, Russia and the OPEC countries.

With a staff of around 190, mainly energy experts and statisticians from its 28 member countries, the IEA conducts a broad programme of energy research, data compilation, publications and public dissemination of the latest energy policy analysis and recommendations on good practices." (Source: IEA website  )


Methane is a colorless, flammable, nontoxic gas with the chemical formula CH4.

This gas is formed naturally by the decomposition of organic matter. Wetlands, livestock and energy are the main sources of methane emissions to the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas.

Methane is also a major component of natural gas. It is mainly extracted from geological deposits for fuel and industrial uses (Source: GreenFacts )


Nanotechnology is the science of designing, producing, and using structures and devices having one or more dimensions of about 100 millionth of a millimetre (100 nanometres) or less. (Source: GreenFacts)


Supercritical & Ultra-supercritical technology

Conventional coal-fired power plants, which make water boil to generate steam that activates a turbine, have efficiency of about 32%.

Supercritical (SC) and ultra-supercritical (USC) power plants operate at temperatures and pressures above the critical point of water, i.e. above the temperature and pressure at which the liquid and gas phases of water coexist in equilibrium, at which point there is no difference between water gas and liquid water. This results in higher efficiencies – above 45%.

Supercritical (SC) and ultra -supercritical (USC) power plants require less coal per megawatt-hour, leading to lower emissions (including carbon dioxide and mercury), higher efficiency and lower fuel costs per megawatt. (Source: GreenFacts, based on  Indo German Energy Programme )


A characteristic or state whereby the needs of the present and local population can be met without compromising the ability of future generations or populations in other locations to meet their needs.


Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

"Poverty reduction and sustainable development are the principal tasks of the SDC. To facilitate the achievement of these goals, the SDC focuses on various thematic priorities. In each thematic domain, a sub-goal is targeted while ever keeping in mind the fact that the priority themes are intimately linked to one another." (Source: SDC website )


A pattern of change over time, over and above short-term fluctuations. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


"The mission of GRID-Arendal is to provide environmental information, communications and capacity building services for information management and assessment. Established to strengthen the United Nations through its Environment Programme (UNEP), our focus is to make credible, science-based knowledge understandable to the public and to decision-making for sustainable development.

GRID-Arendal provides analysis and supports communication on issues such as climate change, environment and poverty, environment and security, the urban environment and sustainable development through education." (Source: UNEP/GRID-Arendal website )

Zero energy building

General term applied to a building that produces as much energy, or more energy, than it uses and therefore has a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year. To do so, zero-energy buildings make use of renewable energies such as solar energy.

Zero energy buildings are gaining considerable interest as a means to cut greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy.

In the European Union and in the USA, buildings account for 40% of total energy use. (Source: GreenFacts )

Other articles you might like...
Climate Change home
This Technical Report of AR6 summarizes the current understanding of observed climate change impacts on ecosystems and human societies as well as vulnerabilities and future risks
COP26 home
Main decisions of the Glasgow Climate Pact adopted at the 26th COP26
GBO 5 home
Biological diversity (Part 3): challenges 2050
A-Z List
    Themes covered
    Publications A-Z

    Get involved!

    This summary is free and ad-free, as is all of our content. You can help us remain free and independant as well as to develop new ways to communicate science by becoming a Patron!