Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Global Energy Management (GEM): Natural Resources

Energy

U.S. and international industry energy resources.

Natural Gas, Nuclear Energy, Coal

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed when layers of buried plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over thousands of years. The energy that the plants and animals originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of carbon in natural gas. Natural gas is combusted to generate electricity, enabling this stored energy to be transformed into usable power (epa.gov).

What is nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy is created by nuclear power plants split uranium atoms inside a reactor in a process called fission. At a nuclear energy facility, the heat from fission is used to produce steam, which spins a turbine to generate electricity (nei.org).

What is coal?

The energy we get from coal today comes from the energy that plants absorbed from the sun millions of years ago. All living plants store solar energy through a process known as photosynthesis. When plants die, this energy is usually released as the plants decay. Under conditions favourable to coal formation, the decaying process is interrupted, preventing the release of the stored solar energy. The energy is locked into the coal (worldcoal.org).