Most scientists believe that our climate is changing because of an over accumulation of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Most of the over accumulation of carbon dioxide is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. (Oil, natural gas and coal)

Do you know that most of these fuels are burned to make our electricity? Not only do they pollute our atmosphere, but fossil fuels are beginning to get more scarce, this means that they will become gradually more expensive and we will become more reliant to the countries that control their supply.

Well.. there is an alternative way of making the energy! Hurrah!

Its called… Renewable Energy. Renewable energy is a tremendous way of making electricity, because it Won’t run out. And it Doesn’t cause nearly as much pollution

Renewable energy sources work in a variety of ways. They get their power from;


The sun – this makes wind, biomass, hydro and solar energies possible
The moon – which influences tidal power
And the earth – which makes geothermal power possible

At the moment there are 8 main types of renewable energy:

Solar PV panels create electricity directly from the light produced by the sun
Solar heating uses the heat from the sun to heat water

The most common way to generate electricity is to turn turbines. Fossil fuels are normally burnt to make steam which turns the turbines…
Wind power uses wind to turn them
Hydro power uses moving water
Tidal energy uses the pull of the tides
Wave energy uses the power in waves
Biomass burns plants – e.g. wood to make steam to turn turbines
Geothermal uses the heat of the earth to make steam

Renewables  Renewables Renewables


The heat from biomass and geothermal is also used to directly heat houses, greenhouses etc. and passive solar heating uses the heat from the sun to keep a house at a good temperature.

There are other means for making power – like fuel cells that run on hydrogen, that are in development at the moment, but the ones above are the main, large scale ones.

There are of course disadvantages to all the forms of renewable energy- solar panels only create electricity when it is day time and wind turbines only turn when the wind blows. For example, but mostly, overwhelmingly, renewable energies have the potential of saving our future!!

You can help! Your family and school can ring up their electricity supplier and ask to be switched over to their green tariff.


This will mean that the company you buy your electricity from will ensure that the amount of electricity that you use is generated from a renewable energy source. All of our electricity suppliers are required to ensure that 3% of their electricity comes from renewable energy sources so they shouldn’t ask you to pay more for the privilege. If they do then you can change supplier to one that uses renewable energy sources to make the electricity!

Some companies that supply it are; Unit-e, Juice, RSPB energy, Green energy 100, Ecotricity, Green energy 10. To find out how they compare, go to the Friends of the Earth website – they do a compare and contrast page to make things easier.

We have some more information about some of these companies in our Green Shop, just pop in.

But that is not all you can do! The most exciting thing about the upsurge in renewable energy development is that anyone can install renewable energy systems! It’s not just for the big boys..

You and your family and your school and your community can buy and install your own renewable energy system.. There are grants available to help you do this!

Your home could have solar water heaters fitted onto the roof..
You could have your very own solar panels generating electricity during the daytime..
Your school could fit a biomass boiler instead of an oil fired one to heat the school..
Your community could club together and have its own micro hydro power station or even a wind turbine..

For grants to help you install your own renewable energy system in your home or school, explore the Low Carbon Buildings Programme website

If you want to find out more about installing renewable energy systems in your community ( your school, your community hall, your local disused mill ponds etc) then the Microgeneration Yorkshire will be able to help you. Have a look at their website: or ring them on 0113 237 8400.

If you want more information about

Loads of websites about renewable energy, how it works etc
Lesson plans for teaching about renewable energy
Our renewable energy, wind power or hydro power workshops
Education kits that you can use in class
Possible funding sources for renewable energy projects