ⓘ Primary energy is an energy form found in nature that has not been subjected to any human engineered conversion process. It is energy contained in raw fuels, an ..

Primary energy

ⓘ Primary energy

Primary energy is an energy form found in nature that has not been subjected to any human engineered conversion process. It is energy contained in raw fuels, and other forms of energy received as input to a system. Primary energy can be non-renewable or renewable.

Where primary energy is used to describe fossil fuels, the embodied energy of the fuel is available as thermal energy and around 70% is typically lost in conversion to electrical or mechanical energy. There is a similar 60-80% conversion loss when solar and wind energy is converted to electricity, but todays UN conventions on energy statistics counts the electricity made from wind and solar as the primary energy itself for these sources. One consequence of this counting method is that the contribution of wind and solar energy is under reported compared to fossil energy sources, and there is hence an international debate on how to count primary energy from wind and solar.

Total primary energy supply TPES is the sum of production and imports subtracting exports and storage changes.

The concept of primary energy is used in energy statistics in the compilation of energy balances, as well as in the field of energetics. In energetics, a primary energy source PES refers to the energy forms required by the energy sector to generate the supply of energy carriers used by human society.

Secondary energy is a carrier of energy, such as electricity. These are produced by conversion from a primary energy source.

PE and TPES are better defined in the context of worldwide energy supply.


1. Examples of sources

Primary energy sources should not be confused with the energy system components or conversion processes through which they are converted into energy carriers.


2. Usable energy

Primary energy sources are transformed in energy conversion processes to more convenient forms of energy that can directly be used by society, such as electrical energy, refined fuels, or synthetic fuels such as hydrogen fuel. In the field of energetics, these forms are called energy carriers and correspond to the concept of "secondary energy" in energy statistics.


2.1. Usable energy Conversion to energy carriers or secondary energy

Energy carriers are energy forms which have been transformed from primary energy sources. Electricity is one of the most common energy carriers, being transformed from various primary energy sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, and wind. Electricity is particularly useful since it has low entropy is highly ordered and so can be converted into other forms of energy very efficiently. District heating is another example of secondary energy.

According to the laws of thermodynamics, primary energy sources cannot be produced. They must be available to society to enable the production of energy carriers.

Conversion efficiency varies. For thermal energy, electricity and mechanical energy production is limited by Carnots theorem, and generates a lot of waste heat. Other non-thermal conversions can be more efficient. For example, while wind turbines do not capture all of the winds energy, they have a high conversion efficiency and generate very little waste heat since wind energy is low entropy. In principle solar photovoltaic conversions could be very efficient, but current conversion can only be done well for narrow ranges of wavelength, whereas solar thermal is also subject to Carnot efficiency limits. Hydroelectric power is also very ordered, and converted very efficiently. The amount of usable energy is the exergy of a system.


2.2. Usable energy Site and source energy

Site energy is the term used in North America for the amount of end-use energy of all forms consumed at a specified location. This can be a mix of primary energy such as natural gas burned at the site and secondary energy such as electricity. Site energy is measured at the campus, building, or sub-building level and is the basis for energy charges on utility bills.

Source energy, in contrast, is the term used in North America for the amount of primary energy consumed in order to provide a facility’s site energy. It is always greater than the site energy, as it includes all site energy and adds to it the energy lost during transmission, delivery, and conversion. While source or primary energy provides a more complete picture of energy consumption, it cannot be measured directly and must be calculated using conversion factors from site energy measurements. For electricity, a typical value is three units of source energy for one unit of site energy. However, this can vary considerably depending on factors such as the primary energy source or fuel type, the type of power plant, and the transmission infrastructure. One full set of conversion factors is available as technical reference from Energy STAR.

Either site or source energy can be an appropriate metric when comparing or analyzing energy use of different facilities. The U.S Energy Information Administration, for example, uses primary source energy for its energy overviews but site energy for its Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey and Residential Building Energy Consumption Survey. The US Environmental Protection Agencys Energy STAR program recommends using source energy, and the US Department of Energy uses site energy in its definition of a zero net energy building.


3. Energy accidents and fatalities

Energy accidents are accidents that occur in systems that provide energy or power. These can result in fatalities, as can the normal running of many systems, for example those deaths due to pollution.

Globally, coal is responsible for 100.000 deaths per trillion kWh.

  • of primary energy supply coming from hydrocarbon fuels. This ratio decreased to about 60 percent in 2018. The proportion of non - renewable energy varies
  • energy electricity, or any other form of energy Primary energy consumption means gross inland consumption, excluding non - energy uses Final energy consumption
  • Primary energy use was 3, 960 PJ 1, 100 TWh less in the United States than in China in 2009. The share of energy import was 26 of the primary energy
  • contribute significant energy There is some disparity in published figures: according to the Ministry of Energy the country s primary energy consumption was
  • primary energy supply TPES of 16.57 Mtoe in 2013. Electricity consumption was 8.71 TWh. 65 of the primary energy supply consists of biomass energy
  • of electricity in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a net energy importer. Primary energy use in Luxembourg was 48 TWh in 2009, or 98 TWh per million inhabitants
  • various other forms of fuel combustion. As of 2015, 80 of the world s primary energy is produced from fossil fuels. In developing countries, over 2.5 billion
  • Most energy in Israel comes from hydrocarbon fuels. The country s total primary energy demand is significantly higher than its total primary energy production
  • technical energy systems. In the field of energetics, an energy carrier is produced by human technology from a primary energy source. Only the energy sector
  • length. Chemical energy energy contained in molecules Electrical energy energy from electric fields Gravitational energy energy from gravitational
  • A general energy flow scenario follows: Solar energy is fixed by the photoautotrophs, called primary producers, like green plants. Primary consumers absorb
  • The energy policy of the United States is determined by federal, state, and local entities in the United States, which address issues of energy production

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