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Explore Global Energy Sources

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

You may have seen an electricity meter in your house - they will look like one of the two below.

This is because it costs money to make electricity, and how much it costs will depend on how the energy is generated.

If it comes from a cheap source, like gas, then it will cost less, but expensive sources, like nuclear energy, will cost more.

 

Electricity meter        Electricity Meter

 

When we look at all the different ways of generating electricity, we can see that they have one thing in common (apart from solar) - it's all about moving a generator around in circles.

All of the different ways of doing this have a significant drawback though, which we are going to look into further in this activity. 

 

 

Non - Renewable

This means that these sources can only be used once and then never again i.e. they cannot be renewed. 

 

Type of Energy Generation Advantages Disadvantages
Coal

Really easy to get quite a lot of energy out of it. 

There is a load of coal in the UK.

Very efficient (about 50%).

Very polluting - the most polluting type of energy generation.

Creates not only greenhouse gases but also nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides that make acid rain.

Creates pollution that can cause asthma.

Very hard to make it completely clean.

We will run out of coal one day. 

Oil

Much cleaner than coal.

Can make more energy than coal.

Much safer than coal. 

Not a lot of it in the UK.

Still produces a lot of carbon dioxide contributing to the greenhouse effect. 

We will run out of oil one day. 

Nuclear

Very safe.

Produces the most energy out of all of the methods.

Only need a small amount of nuclear fuel to make it work.  

If things go wrong, then this could be a major, long lasting disaster (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima Daiichi are examples here).

Nuclear waste is produced - this is a long-lasting (35,000 years) natural pollutant.

Requires 'refining' of uranium that could then be used for making bombs.

We will run out of uranium one day.

 

 

Renewable

This means that these sources can be used over and over again without running out i.e. they can be renewed.

 

Type of Energy Generation Advantages Disadvantages
Solar

Produces no pollution.

Can be used anywhere it is needed.

Relatively easy to make. 

Only works during the day (of course!).

Can be expensive to fit.

Requires regular cleaning to make sure that there is no blockage of the light and, therefore, reduction in efficiency. 

Wind

Produces no pollution. 

Makes quite a lot of energy.

Can be placed 'offshore' to reduce effect on local environments and be more efficient. 

Only works if there is wind.

Can affect local wildlife, including birds and bats. 

Eyesore and noisy for people who live near them. 

Hydro

(includes dams, tidal and wave)

Can be switched on and off to cope with demand. 

Produces no pollution. 

Often destroys a large area of natural habitats to make them. 

Blocking rivers makes it hard for wildlife, such as salmon, to reach breeding grounds. 

Biomass

Uses waste that humans naturally make from farming to generate electricity. 

Easy to do, because it employs the same processes as coal and oil.  

 

Has a strong smell ( you are burning cow excrement after all!) 

Still produces pollutants, like particulates and carbon dioxide. 

Doesn't make as much energy as others.

 

You need to be able to consider all these options and decide critically which is the best solution in a given situation, based on the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

 

Let's give it a try now.

Which of these is non-renewable? 

Wind

Nuclear

Hydro

Which of these is renewable? 

Coal

Oil

Biomass

Which of these reasons are a possible negative consequence of using fossil fuels?

Creates pollution

Only works when the sun is out

We will run out one day

Can be a danger to birds and bats

We have access to a lot of coal in the UK

If you lived on an island with three big rivers and one farm, and it was always cloudy, how would you choose to generate your power? 

Wind

Hydroelectric

Solar

What are the disadvantages of solar energy? 

Panels need to be cleaned regularly

Only works during the night

Only works if it is windy

Nuclear fuel is the safest way of generating electricity, but there are big concerns about nuclear fuel production after the disasters of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima Diiachi.

 

What are the main concerns that people have about nuclear reactors?

Nuclear waste is long lived and highly dangerous

Nuclear power makes more energy than any other form

In the event of a problem, nuclear material can spread into the environment causing cancer

Nuclear power stations can only be placed on the coast

We don't know how to safely store the nuclear waste

What is the key factor that affects how much the energy companies charge you for electricity? 

How windy it is on that day

How the energy is generated

How much the sun is out

How much nuclear fuel is left in the world

What are the types of hydro generators? 

Geothermal

Wave

Solar

Coal

Oil

Dam

Tidal

What is commonly burned in a biomass power-plant? 

Coal

Animal dung

Plant remains

Pulp (wood chips)

What source of energy does uranium provide?

Hydroelectricity

Nuclear power

Solar power

  • Question 1

Which of these is non-renewable? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Nuclear
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with this first question? Nuclear power depends on nuclear fuel - or uranium. When we run out of uranium, then we will not be able to use nuclear fuel any more. This means it is non-renewable.
  • Question 2

Which of these is renewable? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Biomass
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this didn't catch you out! Biomass is renewable because it is made by the environment - as long as we have farms, we will have runoff that can be used again and again.
  • Question 3

Which of these reasons are a possible negative consequence of using fossil fuels?

CORRECT ANSWER
Creates pollution
We will run out one day
EDDIE SAYS
There were two correct answers to this one. Did you find them both? All fossil fuels will make pollution and they will all run out one day. We need to be ready with renewables before this happens if we are to be able to continue to live our lives in the way in which we are used to.
  • Question 4

If you lived on an island with three big rivers and one farm, and it was always cloudy, how would you choose to generate your power? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Hydroelectric
EDDIE SAYS
You had several renewable forms of energy to choose from here. In the situation described above, hydroelectric would be the best way to generate power as you could use the river to make energy.
  • Question 5

What are the disadvantages of solar energy? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Panels need to be cleaned regularly
EDDIE SAYS
Did that tricksy middle one catch you out? Not to worry - you won't be the only one to fall into the trap! Treat it as a lesson in how important it is to read the options really carefully! Dust collecting on the solar panels means that they will not work as well as they should, so they need to be regularly cleaned to make sure that they are generating enough electricity.
  • Question 6

Nuclear fuel is the safest way of generating electricity, but there are big concerns about nuclear fuel production after the disasters of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima Diiachi.

 

What are the main concerns that people have about nuclear reactors?

CORRECT ANSWER
Nuclear waste is long lived and highly dangerous
In the event of a problem, nuclear material can spread into the environment causing cancer
We don't know how to safely store the nuclear waste
EDDIE SAYS
You're flying through these questions! While nuclear accidents are major, they are also rare. This hasn't stopped people from being concerned about them as they can cause major cancers if you are exposed to the radiation. Currently, our only solution for dealing with nuclear waste is to bury it deep underground.
  • Question 7

What is the key factor that affects how much the energy companies charge you for electricity? 

CORRECT ANSWER
How the energy is generated
EDDIE SAYS
The weather might affect the amount of electricity you use in a day but it won't change the amount the electricity company charges you for each kilowatt of power you've used. The way the energy is generated will affect how much your energy company charge you.
  • Question 8

What are the types of hydro generators? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Wave
Dam
Tidal
EDDIE SAYS
Now you've had a little lesson in languages to add to all the fun of this activity! The word 'hydro' means 'water' in Greek so all three answers must be something to do with water! The three most common types are wave, dam and tidal, with dam being the most common of them all. Just think about the Hoover dam that provides all of Las Vegas with its electricity, or the Three Gorges dam that produces more electricity than ten oil power stations.
  • Question 9

What is commonly burned in a biomass power-plant? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Animal dung
Plant remains
Pulp (wood chips)
EDDIE SAYS
Nearly there! Biomass power-plants will burn any bi-product of natural processes, so anything that is natural can be burnt in them.
  • Question 10

What source of energy does uranium provide?

CORRECT ANSWER
Nuclear power
EDDIE SAYS
You've made it to the last question! Uranium provides nuclear power. It is a non-renewable source as uranium gets used up in the nuclear reaction. Well done for completing this activity - terrific work!
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