Renewable and non-renewable energy

Home learning focus

In this lesson, learn about renewable and non-renewable energy.

This guide contains:

  • two videos
  • three activities to reinforce learning.

Types of energy

There are two types of energy: renewable and non-renewable.

Watch this short video which explains what renewable and non-renewable energy is.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is a natural source of energy that will never run out. Sources such as wind, the Sun and water are renewable energy sources that can be used to create electricity.

There are different types of renewable energy:

  • Hydropower - moving water helps create electricity by turning turbines under the sea as the tide moves in and out, or by using water stored in a dam.
  • Solar energy - solar panels collect energy from the Sun to create electricity.
  • Wind energy - wind turns turbines to create electricity.
  • Geothermal energy - volcanic activity can be used for heating water and the steam produced can be used to power generators and create electricity.

These sources of energy are much cleaner to use than fossil fuels because they do not produce harmful gases that cause pollution and climate change.

What is non-renewable energy?

Non-renewable energy is also known as fossil fuels.

Much of the world’s energy is produced by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

These natural resources were formed from the remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago. They are used to power everything from planes to gas cookers.

Burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide gas, which is damaging to the environment and is making the Earth warmer. Once fossil fuels are gone they cannot be replaced, so people are now using renewable sources of energy.

This is a coal power station in the UK. Coal is a fossil fuel which is often used for providing heat.

This is a coal power station in the UK. Coal is a fossil fuel which is often used for providing heat.

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Recap: Watch this video to recap renewable and non-renewable energy.


There are lots of interesting things to find out about renewable and non-renewable energy.

Activity 1

Fill the gaps

Can you complete the fill the gap activity.

Activity 2


Test your knowledge on renewable and non-renewable energy with this quiz.

Activity 3

Create a poster

Using all the information in this guide, create a poster on renewable and non-renewable energy.

You could use this worksheet from Twinkl to compare the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy.

Top tip: Make sure all the information on your poster is clear and eye-catching.

Advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

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