All About Renewable Energy for Kids

Using renewable energy sources has many benefits. Energy sources that don't harm the environment can give us power without producing pollution. These energy sources also continually renew themselves, so we don't have to worry about using them all up to get the energy we need. You have probably heard of solar energy, which is using sunlight for power. It's also possible to use the power of the wind, water, and oceans to produce energy. Even the Earth itself and organic materials that are often thrown away can be sources of renewable energy.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is an effective way to harness the sun's power and use it to power various things. Solar energy doesn't release pollutants into the air, so it has fewer negative effects on the environment than other sources of energy. If the solar cells are large enough on panels, it's even possible to use the sun to produce enough electricity for an entire home. The amount of sunlight has to be enough, and it has to be consistent, or it may not be possible to collect enough energy.

  • Solar Energy for Kids - The sunlight that comes down to Earth has energy that can be used to create electricity.
  • The Environment: Solar Energy - Solar power comes from sunlight, and it can be used to make heat energy or electric energy.
  • Solar Energy - Researchers have learned that people have been using solar energy for thousands of years, getting heat from it for warmth and cooking.
  • Solar Basics - Converting sunlight into electricity involves using solar cells that can power small electronic devices and even electricity to power a whole house.
  • Solar Power: Energy Source Fact File - Scientists call the sun our ultimate source of energy, because without it, there could be no life on Earth.

Wind Energy

Wind turbines are installed in areas where the wind blows regularly. These wind farms can be a great way to reduce electricity bills. As the huge rotors rotate, a generator spins that makes electricity. Wind turbines can be used to power specific needs such as pumping water, or they can also be attached to a large power grid to provide electricity. Some turbines also work with solar cell systems to provide even more energy.

Hydro Energy

Hydro means water, so it's easy to see that hydro energy means energy that's created using the power of water. Falling or moving water produces kinetic energy, which can be converted into mechanical energy with a turbine. When the mechanical energy comes out of the turbine, a generator converts it to electrical energy. Hydro-electric plants can be large enough to power only one or two houses, or they can be massive ones that produce enough electricity for large cities.

  • Water Energy - Water can be very powerful, and it's possible to use moving water to generate electricity.
  • Hydro Energy for Kids - The energy produced by water is called hydroelectric energy.
  • Hydro-Electric Power - Building hydro-electric stations where water is running makes it possible to use the power generated from water.
  • Hydro-Electric Energy - A hydro-electric dam generates electricity as the water rushes over the dam.
  • How Hydro Power Works - A turbine inside a hydro-power plant captures the energy of the water and uses it to generate electricity.

Tidal Energy

As tides rise and fall along ocean shorelines, it's possible to use the moving water to produce energy. Tidal plants place dams across inlets. As tides rise and fall, turbine systems are filled with and emptied of water, which produces energy. These two-way systems can produce energy as tides rise and fall.

  • Ocean Energy (PDF) - Water levels vary regularly near shores as the tides move in and out, and locations with larger tidal ranges can produce energy.
  • Tidal Power - Tidal power is a clean type of energy that uses the ocean's tides to produce energy.
  • Overview of Tidal Power - Turbines are installed in areas with lots of tidal movements, which captures kinetic energy to convert to electricity.
  • Hydro Power and Tidal Power - Tidal power is a newer form of hydro power that can be more dependable than solar power.
  • Understanding Tides - Tides refer to the way the sea level rises and falls because of gravitational pulls from the moon and sun.

Geothermal Energy

"Geo" means Earth and "therme" means heat in Greek, so the word geothermal means heat that's produced by the Earth. This type of renewable energy can be harnessed to create electricity. Geothermal resources might be used to provide electricity for homeowners. It can also be used on a bigger scale to power industrial plants and huge farms.

  • Geothermal for Kids - Geothermal energy happens as the Earth's core slowly decays, releasing radioactive elements that produce energy.
  • What is Geothermal Energy? - Magma from inside the earth can heat water, which causes the water to rise to the Earth's surface and spew out as a geyser.
  • Geothermal Energy Facts - Geothermal energy is created inside the Earth continuously.
  • 15 Fun Facts: Geothermal Energy - The world's biggest hot spring is located in New Zealand, and it is about nine acres in size.
  • Geothermal Basics - Wells drilled deep into the Earth can tap into underground reservoirs, which produce steam and hot water that can be converted into power.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy includes organic materials that come from plants and animals. It's possible to burn solid matter such as wood and garbage. Material from animal waste or rotting garbage produces biogas, which can also be a fuel source. Liquid biomass includes cooking grease, vegetable oil, and animal fat, and these liquids can be fermented to create fuel that will power vehicles.