Difference Between Energy And Electricity

There’s an important difference between energy and electricity.

Below, we outline what the main difference between the two is, provide a brief description of each one, and list some of the different ways energy and electricity can be measured.


What’s The Difference Between Energy & Electricity?

Energy is a far more broad term than electricity, and includes all primary and secondary energy sources.

Electricity on the other hand is a specific type of secondary energy source that can be generated from a range primary energy sources.


theconversation.com in particular mentions that (paraphrased) energy is a ‘… broad term [that includes different sources]’ whilst electricity is a ‘specific form of energy that can be produced from many different sources’


What Is Energy?

Energy might mainly refer to primary and secondary energy sources.

Primary energy sources are energy sources that are found in nature, or in a raw form.

Examples of some of the main primary energy sources might include fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil, uranium, renewable energy sources (like sunlight for solar energy, wind for wind energy, water for hydro energy, etc), and other energy sources.

Secondary energy sources on the other hand are converted forms of energy (primary energy sources converted into secondary energy sources) that can be used in everyday life.

Examples of some of the main secondary energy sources might include electricity and also gasoline.

As one example, coal is combusted at a coal power plant, and goes through an energy conversion process to eventually generate electricity using steam turbines.

As another example, crude oil and other liquids have to be refined in order to use the by-products in petroleum fuel products.

In the context of using the term ‘energy’ to describe energy use across society (particularly primary energy use), it can refer to all forms of energy use, such as electricity generation, heating, fuels used in transport, and so on.


What Is Electricity?

Electricity is a specific type of secondary energy source.

It is generated (usually from the electricity generation sector) when primary energy sources are converted into electricity.

Different primary energy sources might be converted into electricity in different ways.

For example, coal power plants combust coal to generate steam, which helps spin a turbine and create electricity.

Solar energy on the other hand might convert sunlight and photons into DC energy, and run that DC energy through an inverter to turn it into mains type AC power that can be used in buildings, or fed into the grid.

Electricity is a usable form of energy that we use everyday in our homes, at work and at businesses, in buildings, and across most sectors and industries across society.

In the context of using the term ‘electricity’ to describe electricity use across society, it refers mainly to electricity from the electricity generation sector (however, other sectors may use the electricity generated from the electricity generation sector for manufacturing/production and other activities).

‘Electricity’ doesn’t usually refer to other sources of energy, such as energy in the transport sector (like gasoline fuels), and other forms of energy that aren’t electricity.


Different Ways To Measure Energy & Electricity Use & Production

There can be a range of different ways to measure both energy, and also electricity use or production


Some Uniform Measurements Of Energy

Some uniform ways to measure energy consumption or production might include:

– Measuring total Btu (British thermal units), which is a measure of the heat content contained in the total amount of energy or fuel produced or used

– Measuring the total kWh (kilowatt hours) used or produced 


Energy sources can be converted into these units.

These uniform methods of measurement and conversions allow different energy sources to be compared to one another in a like for like way.


Measurements For Specific Types Of Energy Sources

In addition to the uniform methods of measurement, there are ways to measure specific energy sources.

Some of the ways to measure specific types of energy sources might include:

– Measuring liquid fuels like oil in barrels or gallons

– Measuring natural gas in cubic feet

– Measuring coal in short tons

– Measuring electricity in kilowatts and kilowatt hours





1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides

2. https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-are-south-australias-high-electricity-prices-the-consequence-of-renewable-energy-policy-93594

Leave a Comment