Thermal energy is the heat in the vibrations of molecules. It results from friction and may also be a product of the chemical energy of combustion. Geothermal energy, which is heat from within the Earth, may be heat stored from the formation of Earth supplemented with heating from pressure and radioactive decay.
Radiant energy is light and all forms of electromagnetic radiation. Solar energy is a critical source of radiant energy, and infrared is a radiant source of heat.
Nuclear energy from fusion and fission results from the strong nuclear force. It is changed to mechanical and other forms of energy in nuclear submarines, the explosions of nuclear weapons, and in nuclear power plants.
Electrical energy is movement of electrons caused by electromagnetic force. If electrons travel one way through a wire, we have direct current. If they continually reverse directions, we have the more common alternating current.
In any system, we can change energy from one form into another. For example, the mechanical energy of a stream can be turned into electricity by a hydro unit. The resulting electricity can be turned into heat and light in a home or can run a machine in a factory. With these changes, the first law of thermodynamics requires that the total amount of energy in an isolated system will always remain constant. Energy scarcity becomes a problem because of the second law of thermodynamics, which requires that when energy is converted, it is reduced in quality and its ability to do work. Thus, with each energy conversion, we have the same total amount of energy but less available energy to do work. For example, the generation of electricity produces both heat and electricity. However, the heat generated is generally at a temperature too low to be otherwise usefully captured for work. (Georgescu-Roegen, 1979) (Hinrichs, 1996).
An understanding of the economical use of energy is interdisciplinary. It involves knowledge of economics, tools of mathematical optimization, simulation, and forecasting along with institutional, engineering and technical information for energy production, transportation, transformation, and use. Hence, in this book, we will combine economics and mathematical analysis with institutional and technical information to better understand various energy markets.
Since the advent of the big bang, theorized to have occurred some 13 billion years ago, energy has remained a fundamental component of the universe. Humans, who arrived only a few million years ago, have consumed only a small portion of the vast supply of energy on this small planet. Part of the ascent of