Learn about where energy comes from and its impact on the environment
10LearningKS1, KS2, KS3, KS4, KS5
Electricity can be made from renewable or non-renewable sources. This video provides a good introductory overview. Non-renewable sources Most of our electricity comes from power stations that use fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to generate electricity. When fossil fuels are burnt, heat is generated. This heat is used to boil water and the steam that is created is used to turn large propellers called turbines. These turbines then turn electrical generators.
These fuels are called non-renewable sources because you can't make anymore and they will eventually run out. Unfortunately, burning fossils fuels produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane which cause global warming.
Renewable sources Renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, waves and heat of the earth are also used to make electricity. Renewable sources can be used again and again, and should not run out. Renewable sources are mostly carbon neutral, meaning they do not produce greenhouse gases, so are much less harmful to the environment.
You can learn about some of the advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources here.
We don’t often think about where our energy comes from when we turn on the light. You might be surprised to hear that almost 60% of the UK’s energy comes from abroad. We import coal from Russia, gas from Norway and uranium for nuclear power from Kazakhstan. This fuel travels an average distance of over 2,500 miles before it reaches us. But things are beginning to change. Renewables have become the second biggest source of electricity in the UK, providing a quarter of our power needs. Clean energy is picking up the slack where fossil fuels are being phased out. Half of the energy generated from ‘home-grown’ fuels (including fossil fuels like coal and gas) now comes from renewable sources. That’s up from less than a third in 2013. We have some of the best natural resources for generating electricity in the world, so there’s no reason why renewables can’t continue to grow rapidly.
Clean energy sources are safer, often cheaper and give us more independence than relying on other countries for our fuel.
What is global warming? The temperature of the Earth's atmosphere has risen by about 1C in the last 160 years, and global warming is set to exceed 1.5C in the next 12 years. It is urgent that we prevent further temperature increases. Melting ice caps, rising sea level, extinction of species, homes and habitats destroyed by flooding, famine and drought are already happening - it is vitally important we prevent the situation getting worse. By 2100, global mean sea level rise will be around 10cm lower for warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. This could mean up to 10 million fewer people exposed to the risks of rising seas. You can learn about some of the impacts of global warming here. Further information and short video clips on climate change and its impacts can be found at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cmj34zmwm1zt/climate-change