Renewable energy is everywhere around us! For as long as there has been a universe, there has been energy. You need it to move or change things. We can create energy through solar panels, wind farms, and hydroelectric powerplants. This energy then generates electricity that we can use in everyday life.
Renewable sources of energy aren’t finite like fossil fuels or non-renewable sources. The sources for renewable energy are wind, the sun, hydropower (using water) and biomass. These sources of energy are better for the environment than burning fossil fuels because they won’t run out one day.
Sources for solar power energy use the sun to provide energy. Solar panels are made with layers of silicon inside. When the sun hits the silicon crystals, it breaks into photons, which start bouncing around very quickly and make a current (electrical energy).
One way of harnessing the wind to create energy is through wind turbines. These are massive pinwheels that catch the wind, that force them to turn. We have a few “wind farms” around South Africa in the Western and Eastern Cape. Wind turbines transfer kinetic energy into electrical energy the same way that turbines convert heat into electrical energy.
Kinetic energy as renewable energy
Kinetic energy is the energy an object has because of its motion. If you wanted to move a ball around, in a game of soccer for instance, you would kick the ball, transferring kinetic energy to it. The ball would have energy because it moves rapidly through the air. The faster the ball moves, the more energy it has. A gentle kick wouldn’t give the ball much kinetic energy (or motion), but If you kicked it twice as hard, the kinetic energy would quadruple. This would give it the power to influence other objects, like a window.
We use the kinetic energy of moving water to create hydro-electric power. Much like with wind, the water’s power rotates turbines under water, which creates potential energy. The water’s kinetic energy turns the turbine, which in then spins the shaft in a generator, creating electrical energy.
Potential energy as renewable energy
Potential energy is stored energy, kinetic energy that’s just waiting to be used. A bike on top of a hill or an elastic that you’ve stretched to shoot someone with both have energy that’s waiting to finally be put to use.
The way we generate electricity on Earth is mostly through the burning of fossil fuels, but the problem with this is that fossil fuels will run out one day. Solar power, wind energy, and hydropower are all forms of energy that depend on the use of the Earth’s natural elements to be generated, which is better for the environment. The sun won’t stop shining, the wind won’t stop blowing, and force of water when it moves will always be strong, so why not make use of all of these sources to generate electricity?
What are your thoughts on renewable energy?
Make your own wind turbine at home
Wind is a sustainable source of energy. That makes it good for the planet. We love to see how these things work, which is why we’ve made a wind turbine. Now we have a pretty decoration and a way to teach our friends about renewable energy!
What you need
- A square piece of paper
- A pin
- A straw
- A piece of cork
- An eraser