As the UK strives to reach its target of deriving 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010 renewable and reusable energy is a hot topic from the classroom to parliament. However, it’s all very well trying to get our kids’ to be more environmentally aware and to think about protecting the Earth’s resources – but how do we explain it in laymen’s terms that youngsters can really get to grips with?
Well for starters, equip youngsters with a sound knowledge of what is renewable and what isn’t! Non-renewable sources of energy – in other words, when it’s gone, it’s gone! Energy sources like oil and coal take so long to form – millions of years in fact – that they cannot be replaced.
Renewable sources are what we should all be aiming for – think, for example water, tides, wind and solar energy! But it doesn’t end there – there are some resources that can be both renewable and non-renewable, for example wood – if you chop trees down and plant some new ones, then you have a renewable source and biomass (fuel made from plant matter).
Types of Non-Renewable Fuels
So what are fossil fuels? Basically they are the gasses which form from dead animals and plants. Around 80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuel, however, the burning of fossil fuels is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world today and therefore, should be avoided and renewable options sourced. Carbon dioxide emissions include one of the greenhouse gasses which contributes to global warming – and it is interesting to note that global temperatures have risen by over 0.7C in the last 300 years!
Types of Fossil Fuel
Coal comes from fossilised plants and is mined from underground. It is burned and can be used for heating and electricity.
Oil comes from fossilised animals. It is a liquid and is found under the sea or the land, where it is pumped up to the surface. It is used for heating, lighting, and for powering engines.
Methane occurs naturally under the sea and land. It is pumped out and can then be used for heating.
Nuclear fuel comes from radioactive minerals that are mined. When these minerals are split or joined together, the energy they produce can be used to generate electricity.
Renewable Sources of Energy
Wind power is usually generated via wind turbines and converts wind energy into electricity.
Tidal Energy is power obtained from the movement in water caused by tides.
Wave power comes from the energy created by waves in the ocean, and can be used for electricity and pumping purposes.
Geothermal power comes from the heat found under the earth in volcanic regions.
Hydroelectric power is sourced from water driving a water turbine and generator.
Educating our children about renewable and non-renewable sources is one of the most valuable lessons we can give them. It is vital that the future generations are clued up about the earth’s dwindling resources and what they can do to help to prevent further deterioration.