Renewable Energy Resources

Renewable energy resources are resources that do not run out. Using renewable energy resources to generate electricity is an alternative to using fossil fuels. They also tend to be less harmful to the environment compared to non-renewable energy resources.

Here are some examples of renewable resources:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Wave
  • Tidal
  • Geothermic
  • Hydroelectric
  • Biofuels

Let’s look at a few in more detail:

Wind Energy

Wind is air in motion, and its kinetic energy serves as the renewable energy source.

Photograph of a field of windmills with rotating blades, capturing wind energy to generate electricity, against a clear sky backdrop.

How wind energy works:

1. When the wind blows, it transfers some of its kinetic energy to the turbine blades.

2. This action directly drives the turbine.

3. The turbine turns the generator, which generates the electricity.

  • Wind energy is a great alternative to burning fossil fuels because it does not involve burning fuels. This means that no carbon dioxide is being released.

Disadvantages of wind energy

  • Not always a reliable way to generate electricity, as it is not always windy.
  • Wind farms can be very noisy.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is energy from the Sun, which can be converted to electricity by using solar panels. As long as there is sunlight, we can use solar energy.

Solar panels are made out of photovoltaic cells and they absorb energy from the Sun. This is the one renewable energy source that does not involve a turbine when generating electricity. The solar panels are positioned to get the most sunlight throughout the day.

Photograph of solar cells arranged on a grassy field, converting sunlight into electricity.

How solar energy works:

1. Solar panels absorb sunlight.

2. The absorbed sunlight is used to generate electricity.

  • Solar energy is a great alternative to burning fossil fuels, as no Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being released. This also means a reduction in fuel costs. Solar energy can even be produced in areas where there is no mains electricity.

Disadvantages of solar energy

  • Not a very reliable way to generate electricity, as when it’s cloudy or nighttime, you won’t produce much electricity.
  • Solar panels are expensive and inefficient, making the electricity they generate costly.


The term biofuel combines ‘bio,’ which refers to living things like plants, and ‘fuel‘ which is a material burned to produce heat or power.

Photograph of a biofuel power station, where energy is generated by burning organic materials, showing growing plants at the bottom, structures such as fuel storage and processing units, and emission stacks against the skyline.

Biofuels are produced from plant materials.

When plants burn, they release carbon dioxide (CO2). However, this is not as harmful as burning fossil fuels because when plants grow. they absorb CO2 through photosynthesis. This means when you burn the plants, you’re just releasing the absorbed CO2 and not releasing any extra CO2. Therefore, this means biofuels are carbon neutral.

Biofuels are better for the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels that have carbon locked inside of them. When fossil fuels burn, they release new CO2.

Disadvantages of biofuel

  • Making biofuels requires a lot of labour.

Geothermal Energy

The term geothermal combines ‘geo,’ relating to the Earth, and ‘thermal‘ relating to heat.

Photograph of a geothermal power station, designed to convert Earth's internal heat into electricity, showcasing the plant's infrastructure including cooling towers emitting steam and the surrounding landscape.

How geothermal energy works:

1. Water is pumped underground.

2. The water pumped down is heated by hot rocks underground.

3. This water then turns into steam (water vapour).

4. Steam is used to turn the turbine.

Geothermal energy is a great alternative to burning fossil fuels because it does not involve burning fuels, which means that no CO2 is being released and there are no fuel costs. The hot water and steam can even be used to heat buildings.

Disadvantages of geothermal energy

  • Geothermal plants can only be built in areas with accessible hot rock.