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Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources


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Basics on the topic Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources

Energy Simply Explained

Energy is everywhere and in various forms. If you moved your body today, you used energy. If you watched TV or talked on a phone, you used electricity, which is another form of energy. If you want to make something light up, get hot or cold, move, or do anything, energy is needed.

What is Energy? — Elementary School

The word energy has its origin in Greek and means active force. If you want to explain energy simply for elementary school, you can imagine energy as a force that causes something. For example, we need the energy from a battery to make a flashlight shine. You can't see or touch energy, but you can perceive its effect (e.g., as light). Additionally, there are different forms of energy.

What Forms of Energy are there?

Energy can occur in the form of light, heat, motion, electric current, and as stored energy. In this overview, you can see the different forms of energy and examples of where you can find each type of energy:

Forms of Energy Examples
light sun, flashlight...
heat sun...
motion wind, water, jumping...
electric current battery, power grid...
stored energy wood, oil, gas, food...

Electric currents are one of the most used forms of energy and electricity in everyday life. It is common in elementary school to discuss the question,, “Where does electricity come from?” Because electricity needs energy sources, in the next section, you will learn about the different energy sources.

How can Energy be Harvested?

Energy can be harvested from fossil fuels, which originate from organisms that lived millions of years ago. This includes petroleum, natural gas, lignite, and coal. To extract energy from fossil fuels, the substances are burned in power plants. The resulting heat is used to generate steam, which drives large turbines. Turbines are machines that rotate. This movement is converted into electric energy by generators, just like how a dynamo on your bicycle work; Only through movement can the bicycle light up.

Additionally, there are power plants where energy is generated through nuclear fission. This type of energy is called nuclear energy. Uranium atoms are split in nuclear power plants. This creates a lot of heat that generates steam, which then drives turbines to make more energy. Generators also convert the movement into electric energy here.

However, it is very important to know that the energy sources coal, natural gas, petroleum, and uranium will eventually be depleted through these two forms of energy generation. That means these energy sources are limited. In addition, their extraction and use harm our environment greatly. Uranium is also very dangerous.

But there are also energy sources that are much more environmentally friendly and will not be exhausted in the near future. These are called renewable energy sources.

What are Renewable Energy Sources?

Renewable energy sources are able to renew or regrow energy faster than they use energy. The following lists out a few energy sources that are renewable and how energy is obtained from them:

  • Solar energy: Have you ever seen solar collectors and solar panels? These are mounted on some roofs or large meadows and consist of black surfaces. These surfaces are dark because dark things can absorb energy and heat up faster than light ones. Collectors absorb the heat of the sun's rays and can heat up water, which is used for showering. Solar cells use sunlight and convert it into electric current. To generate a lot of electricity, many solar cells are combined into solar modules.

  • Wind energy: Are you familiar with wind turbines? These look like tall fans and are used to generate electric current. The wind moves the wind turbine's blades, which drive a generator. They convert the movement into electric energy.

  • Bioenergy from biomass: Biomass is made of materials such grass, manure, or energy crops like corn. In biogas plants, biomass (organic waste) is collected. In so-called fermentation tanks, very small organisms, microorganisms, break down this waste, which produces biogas. This gas is then burned in a combined heat and power plant, and the energy obtained is used for heating or generating electricity. Residues that cannot be further decomposed are used as fertilizer.

  • Hydropower: Hydropower plants primarily generate electric energy using water. For this, the power plants use stored water from reservoirs or flowing water from rivers. The water then flows through turbines in the power plants, which drive generators. These convert the movement into electric energy. You can take a closer look at this in the video Water has power. This image shows what a hydropower plant can look like:


Even though more and more attention is being paid to using renewable energy sources, it is important to save energy.

Energy Saving

There are many reasons why it is important to save energy. When we save energy, we can help ensure that we can hold onto Earth's natural resources like gas, coal, and oil for longer. By saving energy, we can protect and preserve habitats, especially for plants, animals, but also for us humans. Harmful substances that contribute to climate change also enter our environment less. This is important to slow down global warming.

So when energy is discussed in elementary school science, it is also important to think about how we can all save energy. For example:

  • Not leaving lights and other electrical devices on unnecessarily
  • Properly closing the refrigerator door
  • Buying local food to avoid long transportation routes

Everything you have learned can be applied when you receive worksheets on energy in elementary school. In addition, there are often exciting experiments and discoveries on the topic of electricity and energy in elementary school, such as how energy can be generated or saved.

Transcript Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources

Uma is camping in the wilderness this weekend. Now to just quickly take a selfie. Oh dear, the battery is empty. Where will the electricity to charge Uma's cell phone come from? Let's take a closer look at renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The energy Uma needs to charge her cell phone is electrical energy. In everyday life we just say electricity. We can produce it by using energy sources like coal, gas, uranium, and petroleum. In power plants, these produce hot steam that powers turbines and thus generates electrical energy. However, consuming there energy sources is not good for the environment because it produces gases such as carbon dioxide and many other harmful substances. In the case of uranium, which is needed in nuclear power plants, very dangerous radiation is also produced. The depletion of these resources also has a major impact on the environment. Moreover, these energy sources will eventually be exhausted and then, eventually, we will have to come up with something else. Buying energy from other countries is also very complicated and controversial. And more and more people don't want to buy energy from other countries as a result. Because of these problems, we call electrical energy that comes from coal, gas, uranium, and petroleum non-renewable energy. But there are also renewable energies. We can generate electrical energy through wind power plants, solar panels, hydroelectric power plants, and from geothermal energy. In renewable energy, we use wind, water, the heat of the earth, or the sun to generate electricity. Renewable energy does not consume any non-renewable sources. We do not run out of wind, water, and heat from the earth or the sun. But renewable energies also have disadvantages. For example, they need a lot of space and we have to make sure that no animals or plants are harmed. Uma has now unpacked her own little power plant. Electrical energy can also be generated with muscle power and Uma is well prepared. Do you know this device? This is a crank generator. Like a dynamo, a magnet rotates, surrounded by a coil. In this way, the kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy and Uma can charge her phone. Phew, very exhausting. Let's give Uma a little break and summarize briefly; there are non-renewable energies, where we consume energy sources such as coal, gas, uranium, and petroleum. And then there are the renewable energies that use wind, water, the heat from the earth, or the sun as an energy source. What about Uma? She was so tired after all the cranking that she fell asleep taking the selfie.

1 comment
1 comment
  1. It was great!

    From Sarah, 3 months ago

Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources.
  • What is renewable energy?


    The word "renewable" means it is not depleted when used.

    Coal is burned to make electricity and makes smoke in the process. Smoke contains unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide.


    Renewable energy does not consume non-renewable sources of energy. In renewable energy, we can use resources like water, wind, the heat of the earth, and the sun to generate electricity. Renewable energy is generally better for the environment because it does not produce carbon dioxide and other harmful gases.

  • How are renewable energy sources used?


    When sunlight is used as an energy source, it does not need to be burned and does not produce more carbon dioxide or other harmful materials.

    Renewable energy sources do not run out. We will not run out of energy from the wind, sun, earth, or water.


    Wind Power Plants -- Wind

    Solar Panels -- Sun

    Hydroelectric Power Plants -- Water

    Geothermal Energy -- Earth

  • Which sources of energy are renewable? Which are non-renewable?


    Non-renewable resources usually have to be mined from the earth and then burned to create energy.

    Geothermal energy is produced using the heat of the earth itself to produce energy.

    To help you identify each of the images seen, here is a key:

    A - Uranium

    B - Petroleum

    C - Wind

    D - Water

    E - Coal

    F - Natural Gas

    G - Geothermal

    H - Solar


    The renewable sources of energy are wind, water, solar, and geothermal. None of these energy sources require the burning or mining of non-renewable resources from the earth.

    The non-renewable resources are coal, natural gas, uranium, and petroleum. These sources must be mined and then burned to create energy.

  • Which energy source creates radiation?


    Wind energy is produced using windmills, not at a nuclear power plant.

    Many cars are powered by a form of petroleum. Though they produce carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals, radiation is not produced by them.


    Radiation is produced when uranium is used to create energy at a nuclear power plant.

  • What do power plants produce?


    This type of energy is used to charge a cell phone.

    Uranium can be used to produce this type of energy at power plants.


    Electrical power is produced at power plants powered by both renewable and non-renewable energy sources! These electrical plants power our homes and businesses.

  • What are the disadvantages of using non-renewable energy sources to produce electricity?


    "Non-" means "not" so "non-renewable resources" are not renewable.

    Coal power plants have to burn the coal to produce energy. Burning coal produces smoke, which contains high levels of carbon dioxide.

    There are five correct answers to select!


    Only two of these choices were not disadvantages to using non-renewable resources to produce electricity. They were:

    Non-renewable energy power plants always require a lot of space. This is more often true of renewable energy plants like solar and wind power plants.

    We will never run out of these non-renewable resources. Again, this is true of renewable energies like solar, wind, water, and geothermal power.

    Carbon dioxide, harm to the environment, radiation from uranium, limited amount of non-renewable resources, and controversy about buying non-renewable resources are all disadvantages when considering producing energy with non-renewable resources.