Energy Excursions

Primary vs Secondary Energy

As we talk about energy consumption over the next few pages, we will be referring to both primary and secondary energy consumption. Let’s clarify the difference.

Primary Energy

Primary energy is intrinsic to nature and does not require conversion to another form. Some examples of primary energy / resources are:

  • Biofuels
  • Coal
  • Geothermal
  • Hydro
  • Natural gas
  • Nuclear
  • Oil
  • Solar
  • Wind

Secondary Energy

Secondary energy resources do not occur naturally. They are obtained from one or more primary energy resources. Electricity is a common secondary source of energy. For example, coal is burned for heat to create steam, which drives turbines to generate electricity. Gasoline is also a secondary source because it is refined from oil. Secondary sources are designed to provide reliable power that can be delivered to the places humans need it, like our electrical wall outlets and our vehicle fuel tanks.

Oklahoma Academic Standards
TEKS Standards
College Board Units and Topics
Next Generation Science Standards