• Across the world, major companies and countries are turning to renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
  • Here, Sustainable Energy breaks down some of the most important words and terms in the renewable energy world.

The world’s energy mix is changing. Across the world, major companies and countries are turning to renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal to green their operations and become more sustainable.

But what do all these terms mean? Here, CNBC’s “Sustainable Energy” takes a look at some of the most important words and phrases in the renewable energy lexicon.

GP: AlgaeLink Algae growing system
Ashley Cooper | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines biomass as being “any organic matter” that is “available on a renewable basis.”

This could include organic waste from industrial sources, or feedstock from plants or animals.

Bioenergy is energy produced from “products derived from biomass,” according to the IEA. It represents around 9% of the planet’s primary energy supply, the agency says.

GP: Geothermal power plant at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Brian Bumby | Moment | Getty Images

Described by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a “vital, clean energy resource,” geothermal energy refers to heat from below the Earth’s surface which can be used to produce renewable energy.

The DOE adds that geothermal energy “supplies renewable power around the clock” but emits little or no greenhouse gases.

GP: Brazil, Itaipu Dam, Water flowing over spillway of dam
Laurie Noble | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Energy that comes from the flow of water. Turbines are crucial components of hydropower systems — it’s the powerful flow of water that “drives” them, producing electricity.

The IEA describes hydropower as the world’s largest source of renewable electricity.

Renewable energy
GP: SOCAL Wind Turbines and Solar Panels
Wind farm with solar panels in southern California
4kodiak | E+ | Getty Images

A phrase that encompasses a vast amount of other words, terms and energy production methods.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration describes it as “energy from sources that are naturally replenishing but flow-limited.”

These sources are “virtually inexhaustible in duration.” Examples of renewable energy include solar, wind, geothermal and wave power.

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