Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes from sources that will not be used up in our lifetimes, such as the sun and wind.


2 - 12


Earth Science, Experiential Learning, Engineering, Geology


Wind Turbines in a Sheep Pasture

Wind turbines use the power of wind to generate energy. This is just one source of renewable energy.

Photograph by Jesus Keller/ Shutterstock
Wind turbines use the power of wind to generate energy. This is just one source of renewable energy.
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To make electricity, you need an energy source. Some energy sources can get used up. One example is coal.

Other types of energy do not get used up. This is called renewable energy. The wind, the sun, and heat from Earth are types of renewable energy.

Solar Energy

Solar energy comes from the sun.

Solar cells are used to catch sunlight. They then generate electricity.

Solar cells work well. But they cost a lot of money. Also, we cannot depend on sunlight all the time. We do not get sunlight at night. And some places get more sunlight than other places.

Wind Energy

We get wind energy from wind turbines. These are towers with two or three blades at the top. The wind turns the blades. The blades turn a machine in the tower. The machine makes electricity.

Groups of wind turbines are known as wind farms. Wind farms can be found near farms, mountains, and in the ocean.

Wind energy does not cost too much. But wind speed depends on where we live. The wind changes with time and seasons.

Geothermal Energy

The center of the planet is very hot. Geothermal energy uses this heat.

We get underground geothermal heat in different ways. One way is heat pumps. These pumps can heat houses, sidewalks, and even parking lots.

Nearly all people in Iceland use geothermal energy. It heats the buildings there.

Another way to use geothermal energy is with steam. In some areas of the world, underground steam naturally rises to the surface. The steam can travel in pipes to a power plant.

Biomass Energy

Biomass comes from plants or animals. Plants make energy from the sun. It happens in a process called photosynthesis. This energy is stored in the plants even after they die.

Trees and recycled paper are biomass. So are manure, corn, soy, and sugar.

We get energy from biomass by burning it. Biomass can also be made into fuel. The fuel is mixed with gasoline. It can run cars and trucks.

Biomass can be stored. It can be used when it is needed. But we need a lot of land to grow biomass.

Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy is made by flowing water. Most hydroelectric power plants are on dams.

Dams block the river. They create a lake. Some water flows out of the dam through tunnels. This water turns turbines and creates electricity.

Hydroelectric energy is cheap. Also, the dam always contains water. It does not change with the weather. It does not change with the time of day.

Other Renewable Energy Sources

People are working on other methods too. One method uses ocean tides. Another method uses fuel made from algae.

Fast Fact

Renewable Nations

These nations (or groups of nations) produce the most energy using renewable resources. Many of them are also the leading producers of nonrenewable energy: China, European Union, United States, Brazil, and Canada

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Elizabeth Morse
Jessica Shea, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

March 18, 2024

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