Glossary

ABSORPTION CHILLERS. Chillers that use heat energy from any source (solar, biomass, waste heat, etc.) to drive air conditioning or refrigeration systems. The heat source replaces the electric power consumption of a mechanical compressor. Absorption chillers differ from conventional (vapour compression) cooling systems in two ways: the absorption process is thermo-chemical in nature rather than mechanical, and water is circulated as a refrigerant, rather than chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs, also called freon). The chillers are generally supplied with district heat, waste heat, or heat from cogeneration, and they can operate with heat from geothermal, solar, or biomass resources.

BIODIESEL. A fuel produced from oilseed crops such as soy, rapeseed (canola), and palm oil, and from other oil sources such as waste cooking oil and animal fats. Biodiesel is used in diesel engines installed in cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles, as well as in stationary heat and power applications. Also see Hydro-treated vegetable oil.

BIOENERGY. Energy derived from any form of biomass, including bio-heat, bio-power, and biofuel. Bio-heat arises from the combustion of solid biomass (such as dry fuel wood) or other liquid or gaseous energy carriers. The heat can be used directly or used to produce bio-power by creating steam to drive engines or turbines that drive electricity generators. Alternatively, gaseous energy carriers such as biomethane, landfill gas, or synthesis gas (produced from the thermal gasification of biomass) can be used to fuel a gas engine. Biofuels for transport are sometimes also included under the term bioenergy (see Biofuels).

BIOFUELS. A wide range of liquid and gaseous fuels derived from biomass. Biofuels—including liquid fuel ethanol and biodiesel, as well as biogas—can be combusted in vehicle engines as transport fuels and in stationary engines for heat and electricity generation. They also can be used for domestic heating and cooking (for example, as ethanol gels). Advanced biofuels are made from sustainably produced non-food biomass sources using technologies that are still in the pilot, demonstration, or early commercial stages. One exception is hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO), which is now produced commercially in several plants.

BIOGAS/BIOMETHANE. Biogas is a gaseous mixture consisting mainly of methane and carbon dioxide produced by the anaerobic digestion of organic matter (broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen). Organic material and/or waste is converted into biogas in a digester. Suitable feedstocks include agricultural residues, animal wastes, food industry wastes, sewage sludge, purpose-grown green crops, and the organic components of municipal solid wastes. Raw biogas can be combusted to produce heat and/or power; it can also be transformed into biomethane through a simple process known as scrubbing that removes impurities including carbon dioxide, siloxanes, and hydrogen sulphides. Biomethane can be injected directly into natural gas networks and used as a substitute for natural gas in internal combustion engines without fear of corrosion.

BIOMASS. Any material of biological origin, excluding fossil fuels or peat, that contains a chemical store of energy (originally received from the sun) and is available for conversion to a wide range of convenient energy carriers. These can take many forms, including liquid biofuels, biogas, biomethane, pyrolysis oil, or solid biomass pellets.

BIOMASS PELLETS. Solid biomass fuel produced by compressing pulverised dry biomass, such as waste wood and agricultural residues. Torrefied pellets produced by heating the biomass pellets have higher energy content per kilogram, as well as better grindability, water resistance, and storability. Pellets are typically cylindrical in shape with a diameter of around 10 millimetres and a length of 30-50 millimetres. Pellets are easy to handle, store, and transport and are used as fuel for heating and cooking applications, as well as for electricity generation and combined heat and power.

BRIQUETTES. Blocks of flammable matter made from solid biomass fuels, including cereal straw, that are compressed in a process similar to the production of wood pellets. They are physically much larger than pellets, with a diameter of 50-100 millimetres and a length of 60-150 millimetres. They are less easy to handle automatically but can be used as a substitute for fuelwood logs.

CAPACITY. The rated capacity of a heat or power generating plant refers to the potential instantaneous heat or electricity output, or the aggregate potential output of a collection of such units (such as a wind farm or set of solar panels). Installed capacity describes equipment that has been constructed, although it may or may not be operational (e.g., delivering electricity to the grid, providing useful heat, or producing biofuels).

CAPACITY FACTOR. The ratio of the actual output of a unit of electricity or heat generation over a period of time (typically one year) to the theoretical output that would be produced if the unit were operating without interruption at its rated capacity during the same period of time.

CAPITAL SUBSIDY. A subsidy that covers a share of the upfront capital cost of an asset (such as a solar water heater). These include, for example, consumer grants, rebates, or one-time payments by a utility, government agency, or government-owned bank.

COMBINED HEAT AND POWER (CHP) (ALSO CALLED COGENERATION).CHP facilities produce both heat and power from the combustion of fossil and/or biomass fuels, as well as from geothermal and solar thermal resources. The term is also applied to plants that recover "waste heat" from thermal power-generation processes.

CONCENTRATING PHOTOVOLTAICS (CPV). Technology that uses mirrors or lenses to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a relatively small area of photovoltaic cells that generate electricity (seeSolarphotovoltaics). Low-, medium-, and high-concentration CPV systems (depending on the design of reflectors or lenses used) operate most efficiently in concentrated, direct sunlight.

CONCENTRATING SOLAR THERMAL POWER (CSP) (ALSO CALLED CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER OR SOLAR THERMAL ELECTRICITY, STE).Technology that uses mirrors to focus sunlight into an intense solar beam that heats a working fluid in a solar receiver, which then drives a turbine or heat engine/generator to produce electricity. The mirrors can be arranged in a variety of ways, but they all deliver the solar beam to the receiver. There are four types of commercial CSP systems: parabolic troughs, linear Fresnel, power towers, and dish/engines. The first two technologies are ine-focus systems, capable of concentrating the sun's energy to produce temperatures of 400 °C, while the latter two are point-focus systems that can produce temperatures of 800 °C or higher. These high temperatures make thermal energy storage simple, efficient, and inexpensive. The addition of storage—using a fluid (most commonly molten salt) to store heat—usually gives CSP power plants the flexibility needed for reliable integration into a power grid.

CONVERSION EFFICIENCY. The ratio between the useful energy output from an energy conversion device and the energy input into it. For example, the conversion efficiency of a PV module is the ratio between the electricity generated and the total solar energy received by the PV module. If 100 kWh of solar radiation is received and 10 kWh electricity is generated, the conversion efficiency is 10%.

CROWD FUNDING. The practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people ("crowd"), generally using the Internet and social media. The money raised through crowdfunding does not necessarily buy the lender a share in the venture, and there is no guarantee that money will be repaid if the venture is successful. However, some types of crowd funding reward backers with an equity stake, structured payments, and/or other products.

DISTRIBUTED GENERATION. Generation of electricity from dispersed, generally small-scale systems that are close to the point of consumption.

ENERGY. The ability to do work, which comes in a number of forms including thermal, radiant, kinetic, chemical, potential, and electrical. Primary energy is the energy embodied in (energy potential of) natural resources, such as coal, natural gas, and renewable sources. Final energy is the energy delivered to end-use facilities (such as electricity to an electrical outlet), where it becomes usable energy and can provide services such as lighting, refrigeration, etc. When primary energy is converted into useful energy, there are always losses involved.

ENERGY SERVICE COMPANY (ESCO). A company that provides a range of energy solutions including selling the energy services from a renewable energy system on a long-term basis while retaining ownership of the system, collecting regular payments from customers, and providing necessary maintenance service. An ESCO can be an electric utility, co-operative, NGO, or private company, and typically installs energy systems on or near customer sites. An ESCO can also advise on improving the energy efficiency of systems (such as a building or an industry) as well as methods for energy conservation and energy management.

ENERGIEWENDE. German term that means "transformation of the energy system." It refers to the move away from nuclear and fossil fuels towards an energy system based primarily on energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy.

ETHANOL (FUEL). A liquid fuel made from biomass (typically corn, sugar cane, or small cereals/grains) that can replace gasoline in modest percentages for use in ordinary spark-ignition engines (stationary or in vehicles), or that can be used at higher blend levels (usually up to 85% ethanol, or 100% in Brazil) in slightly modified engines such as those provided in "flex-fuel vehicles." Note that some ethanol production is used for industrial, chemical, and beverage applications and not for fuel.

FEE-FOR-SERVICE MODEL. An arrangement to provide consumers with an electricity service, in which a private company retains ownership of the equipment and is responsible for maintenance and for providing replacement parts over the life of the service contract. A fee-for-service model can be a leasing or ESCO model.

FEED-IN POLICY. A policy that: (a) sets a guaranteed payment over a stated fixed-term period when renewable power can be sold and fed into the electricity network, and (b) usually guarantees grid access to renewable electricity generators. Some policies provide a fixed tariff or minimum price (see Feed-in tariff), whereas others provide premium payments that are added to wholesale market prices or cost-related tariffs (see Feed-in premium). Feed-in policies are sometimes combined with tendering, e.g.electricity producers have to qualify in a bidding procedure. Other variations exist, and feed-in policies for heat are evolving.

FEED-IN PREMIUM (FIP). A type of feed-in policy. Producers of electricity from renewable sources sell electricity at market prices, and a premium is added to the market price to compensate for higher costs and thus to mitigate financial risks of renewables production. Premiums are set as fixed premiums (a fixed amount is added to the market price for a certain period of time) or as flexible premiums (the exact amount is dependent from other criteria, e.g., market price, electricity demand, defined cap, defined floor). Normally, fixed premiums expose electricity producers to higher market risks, whereas flexible premiums mitigate at least some of the market price volatility and the resulting risks.

FEED-IN TARIFF (FIT). The basic form of feed-in policies. A guaranteed minimum price (tariff) per unit (normally kWh or MWh) is guaranteed over a stated fixed-term period when electricity can be sold and fed into the electricity network, normally with priority or guaranteed grid access and dispatch.

FINAL ENERGY. The part of primary energy, after deduction of losses from conversion, transmission, and distribution, that reaches the consumer and is available to provide heating, hot water, lighting, and other services. Final energy forms nclude electricity, district heating, mechanical energy, liquid hydrocarbons such as kerosene or fuel oil, and various gaseous fuels such as natural gas, biogas, and hydrogen. Final energy accounts only for the conversion losses that occur upstream of the end-user, such as losses at refineries and power plants.

FISCAL INCENTIVE. An economic incentive that provides ndividuals, households, or companies with a reduction in their contribution to the public treasury via income or other taxes, or with direct payments from the public treasury in the form of rebates or grants.

GENERATION. The process of converting energy into electricity and/or useful heat from a primary energy source such as wind, solar radiation, natural gas, biomass, etc.

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. Heat energy emitted from within the Earth's crust, usually in the form of hot water or steam. It can be used to generate electricity in a thermal power plant or to provide heat directly at various temperatures for buildings, industry, and agriculture.

GREEN ENERGY PURCHASING. Voluntary purchase of renewable energy—usually electricity, but also heat and transport fuels—by residential, commercial, government, or industrial consumers, either directly from an energy trader or utility company, from a third-party renewable energy generator, or indirectly via trading of renewable energy certificates (RECs, also called green tags or guarantees of origin). It can create additional demand for renewable capacity and/or generation, often going beyond that resulting from government support policies or obligations.

HEAT PUMP. A device that transfers heat from a heat source to a heat sink using a refrigeration cycle that is driven by external electric or thermal energy. It can use the ground (geothermal), the surrounding air (aerothermal), or a body of water (hydrothermal) as a heat source in heating mode, and as a heat sink in cooling mode. A heat pump's final energy output can be several multiples of the energy input, depending on its inherent efficiency and operating condition. The output of a heat pump is at least partially renewable on a final energy basis. However, the renewable component can be much lower on a primary energy basis, depending on the composition and derivation of the input energy; in the case of electricity, this includes the efficiency of the power generation process. The output of a heat pump can be fully renewable energy if the input energy is also fully renewable.

HYDROPOWER. Electricity derived from the potential energy of water captured when moving from higher to lower elevations. Categories of hydropower projects include run-of-river, reservoir-based capacity, and low-head in-stream technology (the least developed). Hydropower covers a continuum in project scale from large (usually defined as more than 10 MW of nstalled capacity, but the definition varies by country) to small, mini, micro, and pico.

HYDROTREATED VEGETABLE OIL (HVO). A "drop-in" biofuel produced by using hydrogen to remove oxygen from waste cooking oils, fats, and vegetable oils. The result is a hydrocarbon fuel that blends more easily with diesel and jet fuel than does biodiesel produced from triglycerides as fatty acid methyl esters (FAME).

INVESTMENT. Purchase of an item of value with an expectation of favourable future returns. In this report, new investment in renewable energy refers to investment in: technology research and development, commercialisation, construction of manufacturing facilities, and project development (including construction of wind farms, purchase and installation of solar PV systems). Total investment refers to new investment plus merger and acquisition (M&A) activity (the refinancing and sale of companies and projects).

INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT. A taxation measure that allows nvestments in renewable energy to be fully or partially deducted from the tax obligations or income of a project developer, ndustry, building owner, etc.

JOULE /KILOJOULE /MEGAJOULE /GIGA JOULE /TERAJOULE PETAJOULE /EXAJOULE. A Joule (J) is a unit of work or energy equal to the energy expended to produce one Watt of power for one second. For example, one Joule is equal to the energy required to lift an apple straight up by one metre. The energy released as heat by a person at rest is about 60 J per second. A kilojoule (kJ) is a unit of energy equal to one thousand (103) Joules; a megajoule (MJ) is one million (106) Joules; and so on. The potential chemical energy stored in one barrel of oil and released when combusted is approximately 6 G J; a tonne of oven dry wood contains around 20 GJ of energy.

LEASING OR LEASE-TO-OWN. A fee-for-service arrangement in which a leasing company (generally an intermediary company, co-operative, or NGO) buys stand-alone renewable energy systems and installs them at customer sites, retaining ownership until the customer has made all payments over the lease period. Because the leasing periods are longer than most consumer finance terms, the monthly fees can be lower and the systems affordable to a larger segment of the population.

LEVELISED COST OF ENERGY (LCOE). The unique cost price of energy outputs (e.g., USD/kWh or USD/GJ) of a project that makes the present value of the revenues equal to the present value of the costs over the lifetime of the project.

MANDATE/OBLIGATION. A measure that requires designated parties (consumers, suppliers, generators) to meet a minimum, and often gradually increasing, target for renewable energy, such as a percentage of total supply or a stated amount of capacity. Costs are generally borne by consumers. Mandates can include renewable portfolio standards (RPS); building codes or obligations that require the installation of renewable heat or power technologies (often in combination with energy efficiency nvestments); renewable heat purchase requirements; and requirements for blending biofuels into transport fuel.

MARKET CONCESSION MODEL. A model in which a private company or NGO is selected through a competitive process and given the exclusive obligation to provide energy services to customers in its service territory, upon customer request. The concession approach allows concessionaires to select the most appropriate and cost-effective technology for a given situation.

MERIT ORDER. A way of ranking available sources of energy (particularly electricity generation) in ascending order based on short-run marginal costs of production, such that those with the lowest marginal costs are the first ones brought on line to meet demand, and those with the highest are brought on last. The merit-order effect is a shift of market prices along the merit-order or supply curve due to market entry of power stations with lower variable costs (marginal costs). This displaces power stations with the highest production costs from the market (assuming demand is unchanged), and admits lower-priced electricity into the market.

MINI-GRIDS. Small electric grids that serve entire communities through distribution networks. Until recently, most mini-grids relied on diesel fuel. Hydro-powered mini-grids are mature technologies, whereas gas-fired generator mini-grids, powered by agricultural waste or biogas, are maturing technologies. The use of inverter-connected mini-grids that incorporate a variety of renewable and other technologies (including battery banks) is developing rapidly.

MODERN BIOMASS ENERGY. Energy derived from combustion of solid, liquid, and gaseous biomass fuels in efficient small domestic appliances to large-scale industrial conversion plants for modern applications of space heating, electricity generation, combined heat and power, and transport (as opposed to traditional biomass energy).

NET METERING. A regulated arrangement in which utility customers who have installed their own generating systems pay only for the net electricity delivered from the utility (total consumption minus on-site self-generation). A variation that employs two meters with differing tariffs for purchasing electricity and exporting excess electricity off-site is called "net billing."

OCEAN ENERGY. Energy captured from ocean waves (generated by wind passing over the surface), tides, currents, salinity gradients, and ocean temperature differences. Wave energy converters capture the energy of surface waves to generate electricity; tidal stream generators use kinetic energy of moving water to power turbines; and tidal barrages are essentially dams that cross tidal estuaries and capture energy as tides flow in and out.

PAY-AS-YOU-GO (PAYG) MICRO-PAYMENT SCHEMES. A flexible metering solution that allows consumers to acquire modern energy on an installment basis and to purchase varying amounts of energy credit using a mobile phone's short message service. After a small down-payment, customers decide how much energy credit to buy and continue to buy more depending on their needs.

POWER. The rate at which energy is converted per unit of time, expressed in Watts (Joules/second).

PRIMARY ENERGY. The theoretically available energy content of a naturally occurring energy source (such as coal, oil, natural gas, uranium ore, geothermal and biomass energy, etc.) before it undergoes conversion to useful final energy delivered to the end-user. Conversion of primary energy into other forms of useful final energy (such as electricity and fuels) entails losses. Some primary energy is consumed at the end-user level as final energy without any prior conversion.

PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT. A taxation measure that provides the investor or owner of a qualifying property or facility with an annual tax credit based on the amount of renewable energy (electricity, heat, or biofuel) generated by that facility.

PUBLIC COMPETITIVE BIDDING (ALSO CALLED AUCTION ORTENDER).A procurement mechanism by which public authorities solicit bids for a given amount of renewable energy supply or capacity generally based on price. Sellers offer the lowest price that they would be willing to accept, but typically at prices above standard market levels.

PUMPED-STORAGE HYDROPOWER. Plants that pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher storage basin using surplus electricity and that reverse the flow to generate electricity when needed. They are not energy sources but means of energy storage and can have overall system efficiencies of around 80-90%.

REGULATORY POLICY. A rule to guide or control the conduct of those to whom it applies. In the renewable energy context, examples include mandates or quotas such as renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, biofuel blending mandates, and renewable heat obligations.

RENEWABLE ENERGY CERTIFICATE (REC). A certificate awarded to certify the generation of one unit of renewable energy (typically 1 MWh of electricity but also less commonly of heat). In systems based on RECs, certificates can be accumulated to meet renewable energy obligations and also provide a tool for trading among consumers and/or producers. They also are a means of enabling purchases of voluntary green energy.

RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET. An official commitment, plan, or goal set by a government (at the local, state, national, or regional level) to achieve a certain amount of renewable energy by a future date. Some targets are legislated while others are set by regulatory agencies or ministries.

RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD (RPS). An obligation placed by a government on a utility company, group of companies, or consumers to provide or use a predetermined minimum renewable share of installed capacity, or of electricity or heat generated or sold. A penalty may or may not exist for noncompliance. These policies are also known as "renewable electricity standards," "renewable obligations," and "mandated market shares," depending on the jurisdiction.

SMART ENERGY SYSTEM. A smart energy system aims to optimise the overall efficiency and balance of a range of interconnected energy technologies and processes, both electrical and nonelectrical (including heat, gas, and fuels). This is achieved through dynamic demand- and supply-side management; enhanced monitoring of electrical, thermal, and fuel-based system assets; control and optimisation of consumer equipment, appliances, and services; better integration of distributed energy (on both the macro and micro scales); as well as cost minimisation for both suppliers and consumers.

SMART GRID. Electrical grid that uses information and communications technology to co-ordinate the needs and capabilities of the generators, grid operators, end-users, and electricity market stakeholders in a system, with the aim of operating all parts as efficiently as possible, minimising costs and environmental impacts, and maximising system reliability, resilience, and stability.

SOLAR COLLECTOR. A device used for converting solar energy to thermal energy (heat), typically used for domestic water heating but also used for space heating, industrial process heat, or to drive thermal cooling machines. Evacuated tube and flat-plate collectors that operate with water or a water/glycol mixture as the heat-transfer medium are the most common solar thermal collectors used worldwide. These are referred to as glazed water collectors because irradiation from the sun first hits a glazing (for thermal insulation) before the energy is converted to heat and transported away by the heat transfer medium. Unglazed water collectors, often referred to as swimming pool absorbers, are simple collectors made of plastics and used for lower-temperature applications. Unglazed and glazed air collectors use air rather than water as the heat-transfer medium to heat indoor spaces, or to pre-heat drying air or combustion air for agriculture and industry purposes.

SOLAR HOME SYSTEM (SHS). A stand-alone system composed of a relatively small power photovoltaic module, battery, and sometimes a charge controller, that can power small electric devices and provide modest amounts of electricity to homes for lighting and radios, usually in rural or remote regions that are not connected to the electricity grid.

SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAICS (PV). A technology used for converting solar radiation (light) into electricity. PV cells are constructed from semi-conducting materials that use sunlight to separate electrons from atoms to create an electric current. Modules are formed by interconnecting individual solar PV cells. Monocrystalline modules are more efficient but relatively more expensive than polycrystalline silicon modules. Thin film solar PV materials can be applied as flexible films laid over existing surfaces or integrated with building components such as roof tiles. Building-integrated PV (BIPV) generates electricity and replaces conventional materials in parts of a building envelope, such as the roof or façade. Bifacial PV modules are double-sided panels that generate electricity with sunlight received on both sides (direct and reflected) and are used primarily in the BIPV sector.

SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC-THERMAL (PV-T). Solar PV-thermal hybrid system that includes solar thermal collectors mounted beneath PV modules to convert solar radiation into electrical and thermal energy. The solar thermal collector removes waste heat from the PV module, enabling it to operate more efficiently.

SOLAR PICO SYSTEM (SPS). A very small solar PV system—such as a solar lamp or an information and communication technology (ICT) appliance—with a power output of 1-10 W that typically has a voltage up to 12 volt.

SOLAR WATER HEATER (SWH). An entire system—consisting of a solar collector, storage tank, water pipes, and other components—that converts the sun's energy into "useful" thermal (heat) energy for domestic water heating, space heating, process heat, etc. Depending on the characteristics of the "useful" energy demand (potable water, heating water, drying air, etc.) and the desired temperature level, a solar water heater is equipped with the appropriate solar collector. There are two types of solar water heaters: pumped solar water heaters use mechanical pumps to circulate a heat transfer fluid through the collector loop (active systems), whereas thermo-siphon solar water heaters make use of buoyancy forces caused by natural convection (passive systems).

SUBSIDIES. Government measures that artificially reduce the price that consumers pay for energy or reduce production costs.

TRADITIONAL BIOMASS. Solid biomass, including gathered fuel wood, charcoal, agricultural and forest residues, and animal dung, that is usually produced unsustainably and typically used in rural areas of developing countries by combustion in polluting and inefficient cookstoves, furnaces, or open fires to provide heat for cooking, comfort, and small-scale agricultural and industrial processing (as opposed to modern biomass energy).

TORREFIED WOOD. Solid fuel, often in the form of pellets, produced by heating wood to 200-300 °C in restricted air conditions. It has useful characteristics for a solid fuel including relatively high energy density, good grindability into pulverised fuel, and water repellency.

WATT /KILOWATT /MEGAWATT /GIGAWATT /TERAWATT-HOUR.A Watt is a unit of power that measures the rate of energy conversion or transfer. A kilowatt is equal to one thousand (103) Watts; a megawatt to one million (106) Watts; and so on. A megawatt electrical (MW) is used to refer to electric power, whereas a megawatt-thermal (MWth) refers to thermal/heat energy produced. Power is the rate at which energy is consumed or generated. For example, a light bulb with a power rating of 100 Watts (100 W) that is on for one hour consumes 100 Watt-hours (100 Wh) of energy, which equals 0.1 kilowatt-hour (kWh), or 360 kilojoules (kJ). This same amount of energy would light a 100 W light bulb for one hour or a 25 W bulb for four hours. A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy equivalent to steady power of 1 kW operating for one hour.