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Energy and Environment Encyclopedias Articles

We at Enerdata are proud to share our partnership with two local publications based here in Grenoble, France, where we have our headquarters. The Encyclopedia of the Environment and the Encyclopedia of Energy both bring high-quality, scientific writing by academic experts to the public in multiple languages.

Through our partnership, Enerdata is sharing a selection of these articles here, which we think will be of use to our clients, partners, and readers.

Articles from both Encyclopedias on a variety of topics are available below in both English and French. More articles will be added regularly, so check back often!


Temperature moyenne de la Terre

The average temperature of the earth

29 Jul 2020 - Author(s): Serge PLANTON

The evolution of climate change and its consequences is often summarised as the average temperature of the Earth with future scenarios ranging from +1.5°C, the objective of the Paris Agreement, up to +7°C. However, as climate sceptics often point out, this is not always what is observed on one's personal thermometer. So what exactly does this global temperature represent? How is it calculated and how can its variations be interpreted? This article proposes to clarify these points about this often misused indicator.

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Climate models

Climate models

16 Jul 2020 - Author(s): Aurore VOLDOIRE, David SAINT-MARTIN

It is now difficult not to admit that we are living in a phase of global climate change. We regularly hear about various scenarios for the future, with temperature increases ranging from 1.5°C to more than 6°C by the end of the century. The Paris Agreement, which came out of COP21, aims specifically to limit this rise to 1.5 to 2°C. But where do these trajectories and objectives come from? In practice, these climate projections have been established by climate models. How are they designed? Are they reliable and robust? Under what conditions are they used to imagine the climate of the future? Find out through this article written by two researchers from the National Meteorological Research Centre.

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Biomass and energy

Biomass and energy: from primary resources to final energy products

18 Jun 2020 - Author(s): Claude SOURISSE

Among the renewable energy sources that have been put on stage by the energy transition, biomass is the least known. Derived mainly from agriculture, livestock, forests and the seas, biomass is the source of very diverse end products, ranging from food and other materials to energy sources used for lighting and cooking, and especially fuels for heating. To fully understand the role played by biomass now – and the role it will increasingly play in the future energy balance – it is important to review what biomass is, its energy properties, its recovery cycle, and the various ways in which it contributes to meeting energy needs.

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Energy Needs

Energy needs

26 May 2020 - Author(s): Bertrand CHÂTEAU

Some kinds of energy consumption are familiar: Litres of gasoline or diesel purchased to fill your gas tank, or kilowatt-hours displayed on your electricity meter at home. But what are these measurements really for? To answer this question, we must first understand energy needs, which are not to be confused with energy consumption (because the same need can be met by different forms of consumption). Several concepts explained in this article help us understand this distinction, including technical systems and the energy paradigm, which explains the origin and evolution of real energy needs.

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Energy in Indianière

Energy in India: the genesis of its powerful coal industry

7 May 2020 - Author(s): Jean-Marie MARTIN-AMOUROUX

India emits about 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, or 7% of global emissions. Admittedly, for the moment, this is not at the same level as China (10 GtCO2/year), but the strong growth (5%/year) must be taken into account, as it shows no signs of slowing down. The country must satisfy the needs of an ever-larger population, which is already suffering from many disparities. To achieve this, it still relies heavily on an abundant local resource: coal. How did this industry develop? Can its expansion be reversed?

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Solaire photovoltaïque

Photovoltaic solar power: technologies and their trajectory

7 Apr 2020 - Author(s): Jean-Pierre JOLY

Solar energy is taking an increasing place in the energy mix alongside other renewable energies. It can be used and transformed in various ways as required, either in thermal form or using photovoltaic panels. To this end, technologies have evolved considerably with the emergence of different processes that compete, replace and improve each other. The focus of this article is on photovoltaic technologies: How do they work and what are their evolution prospects?

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Biocarburants

Biofuels: is the future in microalgae?

15 Jan 2020 - Author(s): Eric MARECHAL

In a world where we are gradually seeking to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly hydrocarbons, biofuels are emerging as an alternative, notably for transportation. However, the technologies underlying this solution are not fully mature yet. Indeed, most biofuels are made from crops (such as rapeseed and sugar cane) and a large-scale development of  such fuels is not conceivable, since it would compete with the current agricultural system, which is dedicated to food. Yet other types of biofuels, based on microalgae, have been developed. They could overcome this limitation, and become a preferred solution to replace our consumption of fossil fuels.

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Economic theories

Economic theories in the face of the realities of environmental crises

6 Jan 2020 - Author(s): Jean-Marie MARTIN-AMOUROUX, Patrick CRIQUI

Whatever the reasons (air pollution, CO2 emissions, etc.), a growing number of players seem to be gradually turning their backs on mineral coal. Among them are organisations from various backgrounds: financial sector players (banks, pension funds, etc.), energy and mining sector players (coal and electricity companies, etc.) and also States (notably the European Union). Despite this trend, coal funding is still readily available, and coal is expected to retain a significant market share in global energy consumption for a few decades to come.

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The car of the future: competing energy technologies

The car of the future: competing energy technologies

6 Dec 2019 - Author(s): Jean-Jacques CHANARON

Today's environmental issues weigh on the transport sector and there is a multiplication of projects to invent the car of the future. As in any innovation process, many different energy sources and technologies are competing. However, the technical aspect is only one element in the success of an innovation, which is part of a broader analysis grid with cost, availability, social acceptance, public policies... Where do we stand on producing the car of tomorrow, what direction is it taking and at what pace?

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Geothermal energy, a source of green energy under our buildings

Geothermal energy, a source of green energy under our buildings

28 Oct 2019 - Author(s): Alice DI DONNA

In the current energy transition context, geothermal energy represents a prime source of renewable and local energy for heating and cooling buildings. To harness this energy, energy geostructures are an innovative solution. They allow a significant reduction in installation costs compared to conventional technologies, since they exploit structures that are an integral part of building construction. This technology, which is still under development, is starting to be deployed in Europe and could well see a significant boom in the coming years.

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Economic theory and environment

Economic theory and environment: a divorce?

2 Oct 2019 - Author(s): Jean-Marie MARTIN-AMOUROUX, Patrick CRIQUI

More and more voices are being raised to denounce the impacts of our societies on the environment and question past and current economic choices. The environment and the economy are pitted against each other. How do economic theories integrate (or not) environmental aspects? How have they evolved? Finally, are they now compatible with sustainable development?

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Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy: a significant source of energy?

16 Jul 2019 - Author(s): François Henri CORNET

The general principle of geothermal energy is well known: drawing heat from the ground to meet energy needs. Geothermal energy can be used for heating, either individually or in a district heating network, and even to produce electricity under certain conditions. Discover in this article the physical mechanisms at the origin of this underground heat, different existing techniques to exploit it, as well as a new lead that could considerably increase the geothermal potential in France in particular.

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Air pollution

Air pollution

3 Jul 2019 - Author(s): Jacques FONTAN

There are a multitude of different types of air pollutants, both man-made and natural. These have had, and continue to have, adverse effects ranging from local to global in scale. Discover through this synthetic article the main aspects of these atmospheric pollutions, their history, and their consequences on the environment and health.

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Diesel engines and wood combustion in charge

Diesel engines and wood combustion in charge

29 Apr 2019 - Author(s): Jacques FONTAN

Diesel engines and wood-burning fireplaces are regularly accused of causing a large number of deaths through fine particles (PM 2.5). These volatile elements are a major component of air pollution and therefore a public health lever. However, there are various sources of fine particles as well as ultrafine particles, such as those from petrol engines, which are difficult to quantify. The measurements now being carried out only provide an overall mass concentration in the air. Therefore, does the current harmfulness of these technologies really correspond to that perceived and communicated to the general public?

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Carbon cycle disrupted

A carbon cycle disrupted by human activities

23 Apr 2019 - Author(s): Jacques JOYARD, Joël SOMMERIA

Carbon atoms are basic elements of all living things. Via photosynthesis, plants, algae and some bacteria use energy from the sun to pull CO2 from our atmosphere. Then, the processes of respiration and decomposition of all these living things returns the CO2 back to the atmosphere. Beyond this short life cycle is a longer, slower geological cycle, which stores carbon in limestone and in fossil hydrocarbons. Limestone comes from marine organisms’ shells. Meanwhile, hydrocarbons are the result of the burial of organic sediments. Burning fossil fuels today has the effect of short circuiting this slow cycle, CO2 is released very faster than it is captured, overruling the natural regeneration processes, leading to the rapid accumulation of CO2 in our atmosphere, which then causes global warming, as well as ocean acidification, which disrupts marine life.

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Environmental Taxation

Environmental Taxation

10 Feb 2019 - Author(s): Christelle BALLANDRAS-ROZET

The purpose of environmental taxation is simple: to change people’s behavior by increasing the cost of actions that hurt the environment. It has the added benefit of making people aware of the effects their actions have on biodiversity, natural resources and public health – just to name a few. Environmental taxation includes a wide variety of possible implementation measures, which highlights how useful a tool the tax system can be to protect the environment.

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The Climate Machine

The Climate Machine

8 Feb 2019 - Author(s): Gerhard KRINNER

Understand the “climate machine” with this introduction to the most important concepts, including how the climate system works, and what contributes to its complexity. What is the different between climate and meteorology or weather? What are the essential elements of the climate system? These and other basic questions are answered in this article. Additionally, we discuss both the internal and external causes of climate change by learning about forcing and feedback, the concept of climate predictability and different time scales, and briefly introduce climatology and related sciences (including physics, chemistry, biology and geology).

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Underground storage of gas and hydrocarbons

Underground storage of gas and hydrocarbons: prospects for the energy transition

8 Feb 2019 - Author(s): Pierre BEREST

Imagine this: You’re hiking across the magnificent Luberon massif in Southern France. You pass a herd of sheep and a shepherd watching over them, but around the next corner on your path hides an industrial installation, lying quietly between two hills: offices, pumping stations, and well heads (as you see in Figure 1). You probably don’t realize that, at a depth of one kilometre under your feet, lies a significant portion of France’s strategic oil reserves. It’s nearly 10 million tonnes (almost two months’ consumption) spread throughout about 40 caves that are each several hundred metres high, in a subterranean layer of salt. In this article, we’ll explore the challenges, opportunities, risks and costs, of this type of formation.

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Climate change: what effects on our health?

Climate change: what effects on our health?

8 Feb 2019 - Author(s): Emmanuel DROUET

300,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 and $2 to 4 billion per year by 2030: this is the estimated impact of climate change, mainly through increased malnutrition, disease and heat-related stress. Agriculture is indeed very vulnerable to temperature variations while populations of virus-carrying insects will increase tenfold thanks to a more favourable environment. The radical change in living conditions, which differs from region to region, with the emergence of "climate refugees" (250 million expected in 2050), nevertheless makes the forecasting exercise difficult. Everyone remembers the 2003 heat wave in which 70,000 people died in Europe in August alone.

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Water shortage

Are we at risk of water shortage?

7 Feb 2019 - Author(s): Ghislain DE MARSILY

The Earth’s water is essentially salty. The water cycle that is necessary for terrestrial life is fed by ocean evaporation, then condensed and released by rainfalls, run by the thermal engine of the sun. This cycle supplies water to the continents, which is divided into blue water (in rivers and groundwater) and green water (stored in the soil after rain and then used and transpired by plants). Human consumption of water as a resource is still rather modest: we use 7% of blue water and 9% of green water, but the problem is the geographic distribution of humanity: We don’t live where the water resources are. Steppes and arid zones are home to 21.5% of the humans on Earth, where only 2% of the planet’s blue water resources are present. And the amount of water we use is constantly increasing because of population growth and changes in our diets, while at the same time climate change is affecting water resources. Given all of this, how can we balance water supply and demand in order avoid shortages, famines, bloody conflicts and mass migration in 2050, and in 2100?

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The energy transition: the planet's greatest challenge

The energy transition: the planet's greatest challenge

7 Jun 2018 - Author(s): Christian DE PERTHUIS, Boris SOLIER

The meaning of the term “energy transition” has varied with time and currently has different meanings across world regions – including within Europe. To avoid allowing this important definition to become so malleable that it risks blurring climate issues, this article first clarifies the different uses of the term. Starting from this understanding, three shifts are necessary: Carbon-free energy sources must no longer be added to existing sources, but rather must take their place entirely; energy efficiency gains must no longer lead to higher consumption (via the relative price reduction produced by efficiency); and the timeline of the energy transition must truly be based on the climate clock, not on politics.

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