Session 1

Basics on Energy


Session 1 introduces the physical definition of energy and the essential role of energy in our life, our society and our industrialized economy as illustrated by the worldwide Energy Mix since 1800.

It states that our modern life mobilize way more energy than what our human bodies could, through a fun quiz asking the power of everyday objects (phone, iron, cars, etc.) and insights on how engines work.

Course Outline

Course Presentation
Quiz on Energy
Basics on Today Energy Situation

Key Learnings

Very fast growth for 200 years

  • Energy consumption has multiplied x30 since 1800.
  • Very large diversification of energy sources enabled this growth.
  • Very fast growth in energy consumption since 2000: +40%.
  • Coal has been the fastest-growing source of energy between 2000 and 2019.

Fossil fuels = 80% of  Energy in the world

  • Fossil fuels are oil, coal and natural gas, which are the top 3 sources of energy.
  • Fossil fuels represent 80% of the world's primary energy mix.
  • Oil: 31%, Coal: 25%, Natural Gas: 23%
  • Traditional Biomass: 6%, Hydro: 6%, Nuclear: 4%, Wind: 2%, Solar: 1%.

Energy Mix

France's Energy Mix:

  • Oil is the 1st source of energy in France, 42%.
  • Natural Gas is the 2nd source in France, 21%
  • Nuclear is the 3rd source, 17%. It is the 1st source of electricity, 70%.
  • Electricity accounts for 24% of France's final energy consumption.

Common Misconceptions:

  • Sources of energy have not replaced each other, they have been added to each other.
  • No energy is "clean": all types generate pollutions & risks.
  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel: its exploitation leads to significant emissions of CO2 and CH4.
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Energy Conversion Table

Human activities do not "produce" or "consume" energy.

Human activities convert energy from one form to another.

Energy & Economy Correlation

There is a very strong correlation between GDP and the quantity of energy input in the economy.

The Toaster Challenge

How much energy does it take to toast a slice of bread? Human body's ability to generate energy is very small compared to our daily 'consumption': how many Roberts do you need?

Energy Slaves

Massive economic gains have been generated thanks to the quantity of energy mobilized by machines vs. human work and their low-cost compared to the cost of humans.

"Energetic slaves" is a provocative concept developed by Jean-Marc Jancovici to illustrate them well: the individual average energy consumption in rich countries is such that it would require several hundred energetic slaves, had it been produced by human beings.

Steam, Electric & Combustion Engines

The 3 major engines are: steam, electric and internal combustion.

Discover how these engines work in motion!

Student Projects

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Pedagogical Note

Session 1 alternates between several formats to create a dynamic and interactive course for students: quizzes, videos and lectures.