What is Energy?

Energy is the basic force of life. Big and small, energy drives and shapes our world and our daily lives.

Energy comes in many forms: light, sound, wind, solar, thermal, chemical and nuclear; and very familiar fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal; and electrical energy like hydro (water) power. Today, due to concern about climate change, there is great emphasis on renewable energies like wind and solar. It is important to note that to use energy we very often change one form of energy into another: for example, wind power into electricity.

In addition to forms of energy, there are two basic types of energy: potential (stored) energy and kinetic (active) energy. We continually shift between these types of energy in our daily lives. This is as simple as sitting at a desk (potential energy) and then standing and walking away (kinetic). A rollercoaster ride illustrates this dynamic relationship: the potential energy that exists in that pause at the top of the track is transformed and spent as kinetic energy on the way down.