Glossary

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z


A

A Symbol for ampere, also called amp.
Ampere Is the unit of quantity of electric current. The symbol for ampere is A and it is often shortened to amp.
Appliance A piece of equipment, usually powered by electricity, used to perform a particular energy-driven function. Things like refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens, toasters, televisions and DVD players.
Aquifer A rock or sediment that is porous which allows large quantities of water to be stored.
Atmosphere The mixture of gases surrounding the earth.


B

Battery A device for storing electric energy by chemical means. A battery generally consists of one or more ‘cells’ each containing an anode, cathode and electrolyte.
Biomass Is a renewable energy source which comes from living or recently living organisms. Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity. For example, dead trees, branches, tree stumps, yard clippings, wood chips and rubbish may be used as biomass.
Bore water Groundwater stored in aquifers from seepage of rain and rivers through layers of soil and rock.
Borefield An area that contains bores where water is extracted from.
Bores Holes drilled into the ground to gain access to stored groundwater, like those collected in aquifers.


C

Carbon dioxide A heavy gas with no colour, no odour and is non combustible (meaning it is not capable of catching fire and burning). It is commonly known by its chemical formula, CO2. It is the most significant of the greenhouse gases.
Carbon footprint Is the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service. Carbon footprint is usually measured in grams of CO2. Becausegreenhouse gases contribute to global warming and climate change reducing your carbon footprint is better for the environment.
Carbon offset Is the act of reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in one place in order to ‘offset’ emissions occurring elsewhere. For example, a business (like a factory or power station) may not be able to reduce its own carbon footprint any further through its own actions, so the business may purchase credits for another party to ‘offset’ their actions.
Celcius Is a temperature scale. See also oC.
CFL Short for compact fluorescent light.
Charge A group of electrically charged particles. Can be either positive or negative. Positive particles repel each other, just as negative particles repel each other. Positive particles are attracted to negative particles. Lightning is caused by accumulated charges that are attracted to opposite charges.
Circuit The complete path of an electric current.
Circuit breaker The general term to describe a mechanical device that breaks the flow of current when it exceeds a set amount. Circuit breakers vary from the small low voltage units found in domestic switchboards, to large outdoor units installed in high voltage switchyards.
Climate It is the average weather for a particular region and time period. The average is usually taken over a 30-year time period. Climate is not the same as weather. Climate is what you expect (like hot summers) and weather is what you get (like a heatwave).
Climate change Is the result of changes in weather patterns because of increases in the earth’s average temperature. For more information on climate change issues in the Northern Territory, go to www.climatechange.nt.gov.au.
Climate system The components of the earth system which affect climate. Things like the atmosphere, the solid earth, oceans and glaciers.
CO2 Chemical formula for carbon dioxide.
Coal A fossil fuel from vegetable material trapped underground without access to air.
Coal-fired power station A power station that uses coal as the fuel to generate or produce electricity.
Compact fluorescent light An energy efficient light bulb which is also known as energy saving light or CFL for short. It uses about 80% less power than a regular incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light.
Conductor Materials which allow electric current to flow freely. Metals are generally good conductors.
Current The flow of electrons. Water flowing in a pipe is also current. Voltage is required to make electricity flow, just as water pressure is required to make water flow.


D

Diesel engines Engines used in power stations that burn diesel oil for generating electricity.
Distribution system The lines, cables, substations, transformers and other equipment connected together to transport electric energy from our power stations to homes and industry. Distribution systems operate at voltages from low voltage (230 volts) to high voltages up to 22kV.


E

Electrical energy Electrical energy or electricity is energy that is produced by the flow of electric charge through a conductor.
Electricity generation The process of producing electrical energy by transforming other forms of energy. Energy is usually measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) or megawatt hours (MWh).
Emission A discharge or something that is given off. In the subject of climate change, they are referred to as greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy conservation Is your action that results in using less energy. For example, turning your lights off when you’re not using them or unplugging appliances from the wall so they are not using standby power. Energy conservation is different from energy efficiency. Here’s an easy way to remember: conservation is your action and efficiency is the technology. Also see energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency Is technology that uses less energy to perform the same function. For example a compact, high energy efficiency fluorescent light bulb uses about 80% less energy than a normal incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. Energy efficiency is different from energy conservation. Remember that your action to change to more efficient bulbs is energy conservation. Here’s an easy way to remember: conservation is your action and efficiency is the technology. Also see energy conservation.
Environment The circumstances, objects and conditions that surround each of us.


F

Fossil fuels Are fuels that are formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals. Natural gas, oil and coal are examples of fossil fuels.
Frequency For alternating current electricity, the number of cycles occurring in each second. Frequency is measured in hertz which has a symbol of Hz. In Australia and Europe 50Hz is used, while 60Hz is used in the USA and much of South East Asia.
Fuse A protective device which limits the amount of current in an electrical circuit. Consisting of a piece of metal wire that melts and breaks the circuit when the current exceeds the fuse rating. Fuses are normally contained inside a fuse cartridge consisting of a porcelain tube with metal end caps and filled with an inert powder.


G

Gas turbines Rotary engines that convert energy of a moving fluid into mechanical energy.
Generator A machine for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. Most generators produce alternating current (power stations) but direct current generators are also made (older cars, mobile welders).
Generating set The general term for a generator connected to an engine of some kind. The engine can be a turbine, a reciprocating engine or an electric motor driven by a battery.
Geothermal Is energy produced naturally inside the earth. Geothermal energy can be taken from hot springs or hot water deep below the ground.
Global warming The increase in the temperature of the earth’s troposphere. Global warming has happened in the past due to natural influences, but the term is now commonly used when referring to the warming predicted by computer models. The results predict warming as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenhouse effect It is the ability of the earth’s atmosphere to trap heat from the sun, which causes the earth’s climate to be warmer. Because of certain gases, the atmosphere acts like a greenhouse.
Greenhouse gases These are gases that trap the heat of the sun in the earth’s atmosphere which produce the greenhouse effect. There are many different types of greenhouse gases but the two major ones are carbon dioxide and water vapour.
Green power Is the term used to describe sources of energy that are environmentally friendly and does not pollute. Things like solar and hydro.
Grid The layout of an electrical distribution system.


H

Hertz Is a unit of frequency. It is the number of complete cycles per second.
Hydroelectric power station A power station that uses moving water to power a turbine generator to produce electricity.
Hydropower Is energy that comes from moving water.
Hz Symbol for hertz.


I

Insulator A material (such as plastic or glass) that does not permit electricity to pass through it readily.
Inter-connector A transmission line or group of transmission lines that connects the transmission networks in adjacent regions.


K

Kilowatt hour A unit of energy equal to the work done by a power of 1000 watts operating for one hour. The symbol for kilowatt hour is kWh.


L

Lightning The flash of light which accompanies a static electricity discharge between two clouds or between a cloud and the earth during a thunderstorm.


M

Megawatt hour A unit of energy equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours. The symbol for megawatt hour is MWh.
Meter A device that measures and records the production or consumption of electrical energy. Induction disc meters have been used for 100 years, but fully electronic meters are slowly becoming more popular. For more information about Power and Water meters go to www.powerwater.com.au/my_account/meters
MWh Symbol for megawatt hour.


N

Natural gas Gas that has no smell, colour or taste and is a non-toxic clean-burning fossil fuel. Natural gas is usually found in fossil fuel deposits and is used as fuel.
Non renewable energy sources Fuels that can’t be easily made or ‘renewed’ which means we can run out of them. A bit like animals going extinct. Oil, natural gas and coal are examples of non renewable fuels.
Nuclear energy Energy that is produced from splitting atoms of radioactive materials such as uranium.
National grid The sum of all the connected transmission systems and distribution systems within the participating jurisdictions. In Australia the national grid stretches from Queensland through New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, to South Australia. The grid makes it easy to establish trading across state boundaries, which is done through the National Electricity Market (NEM).


O

oC A unit for measuring temperature. It should be read as ‘degree Celcius’.
Oil Is a non renewable energy source which is a black liquid fossil fuel found deep in the earth. Gasoline and most plastic products are made from oil.


P

Photovoltaic devices/cells Are solar cells that change sunlight directly into electricity. Photovoltaic devices are commonly referred to as solar cells or PV cells.
Power station A facility where electricity is generated or produced.
Powerlines Power is transmitted through powerlines. Sometimes overhead powerlines follow the road path so you’ll see them when driving in your car. In some areas, powerlines are underground (see Undergrounding Power Project).
PV Short for photovoltaic.
PWC Power and Water Corporation


R

REC Renewable Energy Certificate
Recycling The process of converting materials that are no longer useful into a new product.
Renewable Energy Certificate A Renewable Energy Certificate is obtained for every 1 megawatt hour (or 1000 kilowatt hours) of electricity produced by an approved renewable generator. Go to Renewable Energy Certificates page for more information.
Renewable energy sources Fuels that can be easily made or ‘renewed’. This is the opposite of non renewable energy sources. We can never use up renewable fuels. Examples of renewable fuels include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower (water).


S

Service lines Lines that connect electricity from distribution powerlines into your home.
Sewage Waste matter carried away in sewers.
Sewer A pipe used to carry away sewage or surface water.
Sewerage The entire system of sewage collection, treatment and disposal.
Solar cell See photovoltaic devices.
Solar dish Is a concave mirror that concentrates the rays of the sun and can produce high temperatures.
Solar energy Is the sun’s rays that reach the earth. This energy may be converted to other forms of energy, like heat and electricity.
Star rating A system that helps you find the most energy or water efficient appliance for your home. Ratings range from one to six stars. The more stars the more energy or water efficient the appliance is. See the Energy Star and Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme websites for more information.
Substation Is a facility where high voltage electricity is transformed from high to low or to reverse power using transformers. After the voltage is transformed, the electricity is ready to be sent to your home for use.
Surface water Water that flows over land and in water courses or artificial channels and is able to be captured and stored in dams and reservoirs.
Sustainability Is meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of our future generations (meaning the people of the future) to meet their own needs.


T

Transformers A device that transforms high to low voltage electricity or reverse.
Transmission lines Are the cables used to send high voltage electricity from one place to another, usually from the power station to a substation.
Troposphere The layer of the earth’s atmosphere closest to the surface of the earth.
Turbine Rotary engine that convert energy of a moving fluid into mechanical energy.
Turbine generator An electric generator driven by a turbine. The turbine has blades that are made to rotate by the force of water, burning gas, steam or the wind.


U

Undergrounding Power Project Is a 20-year Power and Water major project to underground residential power supplies to almost 9,000 lots (or 16,000 customers) across 15 suburbs in the Darwin region. For more information visit Undergrounding Power Project.


V

V Symbol for volt.
Volt Is used to measure electrical force between two points in a circuit and have the symbol V. Here in Australia we operate in 240V but in the United States and Canada they use 120V.
Voltage Is the term used to designate electrical pressure or force that causes current to flow. Voltage is measured in volts.


W

Water conservation Is your action that results in using less water. For example, cutting your shower time from seven minutes to three minutes can save about six buckets of water a day. Water conservation is different from water efficiency. Here’s an easy way to remember: conservation is your action and efficiency is the technology. Also see water efficiency.
Water efficiency Is the technology that uses less water to perform the same function. For example, a water efficient shower head will use about 10 to 20 litres less water per minute. Water efficiency is different from water conservation. Here’s an easy way to remember: conservation is your action and efficiency is the technology. So in the above example, your action to change you normal shower head for an efficient one is water conservation. Also see water conservation.
Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Is Australia’s water efficiency rating system. See star rating.
Water vapour Is a greenhouse gas that can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water. Under normal atmospheric conditions, water vapour is continuously produced by evaporation and removed by condensation.
Watt Is the measure of the rate of electrical use at any moment. For example, a laptop uses about 50 watts.
Weather Is the condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and time. In most places weather can change from hour to hour, day to day or season to season. Weather is not the same as climate. Climate is what you expect (like hot summers) and weather is what you get (like a heatwave).
WELS Stands for Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards. See star rating.
Wind turbines Is a rotating machine, driven by wind, that converts energy in wind into mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is then converted to electricity.
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