Renewable Energy

What is it?

What makes an energy source renewable?

A renewable resource is a natural resource which has the ability to replenish itself in order to overcome usage and consumption. Unlike petroleum and coal, these resources do not have a fixed supply. Once the petroleum and coal deposits on earth are used up they are gone. Resources like wind and solar energy occur and replenish naturally in our environment. No matter how much of their energy we use, they will continue to produce more energy day after day. Below you will find a chart that shows the consumption of energy sources by the United States. Why do we use mainly non-renewable resources? Why would we want to use more renewable resources?
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What is Solar Energy?

In its various forms, it derives light energy from the sun. This energy is either directly converted into electricity or stored for later use. The video below will show you the multiple ways the sun can be used as an energy source. While watching this video, answer the following questions:


Identify and explain two differences between Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) systems and Photovoltaic (PV) systems.


Which solar power system works best on a large scale?


How many years is a PV system warrantied?


How does the carbon footprint of solar energy compare to coal?

Video What is Solar Energy?

What is wind power?

Wind is caused by large convection currents in the Earth's atmosphere, driven by heat energy from the Sun. This means that as long as the sun shines, there will be wind. The moving air (wind) has huge amounts of kinetic energy which can be transferred into electrical energy using wind turbines. The wind turns the blades and spins a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. Below you will find a video that illustrates exactly what happens inside of a wind turbine. Answer the following questions as your watch the video:


Before wind turbines were used to convert energy, what did farmers use wind mills for?


What is the purpose of a weather vane on a wind turbine?


Why do wind turbines need to be tall?


Which wind turbine generates energy more efficiently?

Energy 101: Wind Turbines

What is Geo thermal Energy?

In places with hotter 'close-to-earth-surface' temperatures, deep wells can be drilled and cold water pumped down. The water runs through fractures in the rocks and is heated up. It returns to the surface as hot water and steam, where its energy can be used to drive turbines and electricity generators. Below is a video that illustrates this process. Answer the following questions while watching this video:


Identify the different methods of producing power from geothermal wells.


What is the most common geothermal technology being used today?


What are the environmental benefits of this renewable energy source?


How much of California’s northern coast is powered by geothermal energy?

Energy 101: Geothermal Energy

What is Hydro Electric Power?

Moving water has kinetic energy. This can be transferred into useful energy in different ways. One way is hydroelectric power (HEP) which stores water in dams. The water has gravitational potential energy which is released when the water falls. Below you will watch a video that illustrates this process. Answer the following questions and you watch the video:


What percent of our electricity is generated from HEP?


What different HEP methods are used to generate electricity?


Approximately how many dams currently exist in the United States? What percentage of these dams produce power?


What is a fish ladder?

Learn about Hydropower | Energy 101

What are the limits of renewable energy?

Renewable energy's limits seem endless and watching the video below gives insight into what a little bit of creativity and design can potentially do for our future.


After watching this video, decide which renewable resource would be best for our community. Then, Think-Pair-Share with the person next to you. Can you and your partner think of other renewable resources that were not mentioned in these videos?

Solar FREAKIN' Roadways!