Renewable Energy: Natural Sources of Energy


Renewable energy sources, also known as natural sources of energy, are those which it is possible to use without diminishing the resource.

This page will give a basic, relatively non-technical overview of all the major renewable energy sources, and where appropriate links for further reading on each renewable energy resource.

It is worth noting that these are virtually identical to, but not the same as, alternative energy sources.


Hydropower is one of most established true renewable energy source. This is the utilisation of the potential energy caused by a height different in two levels of electricty. Originally this was used in old fashioned water mills, however in the first half of the 20th century more modern devices using turbines to generate electricty were used. Generally in the more modern systems a dam is built across an existing river valley to form a reservoir, and this increases the height of the water, and therefore the potential energy. This water is then allowed to flow from the top of the dam down to it's base inside tunnels within the dam. As it flows, it will pass through a turbine. This will cause the turbine to turn and this movement of the turbine is then transferred into a generator, which in turn generates the electricty, as the video shown up and right explains. Hydropower is a useful source of electricity, as it is not only renewable but it is also possible to control when the water is released in many systems, allowing control to happen.

Famous hydropower dams are the Hoover Dam in the US, the Aswan Dam in Eqypt and the Three Gorges Dam in China. Out of all of the renewable energy technologies hydropower is probably the most economic, assuming there is a suitable resource. Whilst there is the potential for further hydropower projects to produce renewable energy, the majority of good sites in developed countries have already been used, and so out of all of the the renewable energy technologies this is probably the one with the lowest chance of serious percentage growth.

Biomass wood pellets.  Photo taken by thingermejig and licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0.
Biomass wood pellets. Photo taken by thingermejig and licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0.


Biomass power is where organic materials are utilised to generate power. This is probably the oldest renewable energy, in fact when the earliest humans first started using fire they were using biomass.

Biomass, generally in the form of wood and charcoal for heating, was used as the major primary source for the vast majority of human history. However, in the 19th and 20th centuries fossil fuels generally started to take over so that in most developed countries, including Japan, France, Germany and the US biomass became only a very small contributor to the total energy mix. However, biomass continued to play a big role in less developed countries such as those in Africa.

However, there has recently been increased interest in biomass as an energy source in the more developed countries for environmental reasons. Whilst it is true that the burning of biomass generates carbon dioxide, it is no more than the carbon dioxide that was absorbed when the plant grew, and so it is classed as a carbon neutral energy source, and as long as the plant is replaced this is a renewable energy source. There is a push to use more biomass for heating, electricity generation and transport fuels.

Using the fuel as a source of heat is a very simple process, the heat is burnt and the heat is used. Using biomass to generate electricity is done in a plant which is much like a coal powered station. The biomass is burnt to produce heat, this heat is used to turn water into steam which is in turn used to make a turbine spin. This turbine is connected to a generator and so the spinning of the turbine results in electricity being generated.

Biomass can also be used as a transport fuel. This can be done in one of two ways. Oil can be extracted from the fuel in a similar proces to that which is done to create vegetable cooking oil and then after a little bit of processing biodiesel is formed which can be used in diesel engines. An alternative is to use the biomass to produce alcohol in a similar way to the process which is followed to create whisky or vodka. Pure alcohol in the form of ethanol is created, and this is a highly flammable fuel which can be used in modified petrol (gasoline) engines.

However, whilst these modern uses for energy from biomass are all carbon neutral there have been some complaints. There has been some evidence, especially with regards to the biofuels for the use in transport, that food resources are being used to create renewable energy, despite the fact that millions worldwide are going hungry. There is the potential that in the future algae will be used as a feedstock for transport fuel, and this will not be grown on current farmland and so would be a better option as a renewable transport fuel.

A traditional windmill used to grind corn in a renewable way.
A traditional windmill used to grind corn in a renewable way.
The modern way to use the wind to produce renewable energy - wind turbines.
The modern way to use the wind to produce renewable energy - wind turbines.

Wind Power

Wind power depends on utilising the wind to generate electricity or carry out some other activity (such as pumping water). As with many other renewable energy sources it has a history going back quite centuries. For example, windmills were used in medieval Britain (and famously Holland) to help grind corn, and wind power was used to pump water in the American plains.

However the first modern wind power generators were investigated in the late 1970s and early 1980s when there was a large international push for renewable energy. However many prototypes failed and Denmark was the only country which continued pursuingthe idea of using the wind to generate electricity. The Danish made a way of producing electricity using the wind that was relatively economic, and with various forms of Danish government support the industry grew. In the early 1990s the Danish wind industry started to become international and along with support in other countries it grew.

The growth continued at annual rates of between 30% and 50% a year from the early nineties through to the present day, and this was accompanied by reductions in the cost of the electricity generated by the wind and an increase in the cost of electricity generated using conventional means. As such, in many areas of the world where the wind resource is very good, wind power is now able to compete with all other forms of generation even without any form of government assistance, and so this is at present the renewable energy source which is adding most capacity each year.

More recently there has been an increase in the use of using offshore wind turbines to generate electricty, particularly around the coasts of Europe, and this is another potential are for growth in the wind energy industry.


Tidal energy is a natural source of energy which utilises the power of the tides. Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, and to a lesser extent the sun upon the earth's oceans. The tidal motions follow a cyclical pattern, and so unlike other forms of renewable energy such as wind and waves it is possible to predict with great accuracy the power output of a tidal energy device well in advance of it being placed within the water, which is a great bonus. There are two major ways of harnessing tidal energy. It is possible to harness both the changes in height of the water caused by the tides (so called tidal head technologies) and the movement of water as it moves around the globe (tidal stream technologies). Like many renewable technologies the energy source has been utilised for many years, in this case in the form of tidal mills to grind cereals, particularly in northern France.

Like all renewable energy sources tidal resources aren't equally distributed across all of the ocean though. Tidal head technologies rely primarily on a large difference between the maximum and minimum water levels, and in some areas of the world the local geography means that there is an especially big tidal range, and examples include the Bay of Fundy in Canada and the Severn estuary in Britain. Tidal stream technologies are similarly affected by local geography and so narrow channels between two larger bodies of water contain the greatest resource, such as off of the northern coast of Scotland.

The La Rance Tidal Barrage
The La Rance Tidal Barrage

There are several theoretical ways of tidal head technologies to produce power, but as of the present time there is only one well proven technology. This is for a barrage, which acts like a dam across an estuary or river mouth. This leads to a height difference between the water on both sides of the barrage, and this height difference can be utilised using similar technology as that which is used in hydropower stations (see above). This has the effect though that it significantly changes a large area of the estuary/bay, with potentially bad affects on the ecosystem. At present there is only one large scale example, that of La Rance in northern France (240MW), although there are plans for others such as on the Severn. Another option for utilising the tidal head is tidal lagoons. These are like tidal barrages, and work in a similar way, with the only difference being that the built area completely surrounds the area, instead of relying on the coast. This has the result that it increases the cost, but it means that environmentally sensitive intertidal areas can have some more protection.

A turbine located in the car-park of Marine Current Turbines taken approximately 1 year ago.
A turbine located in the car-park of Marine Current Turbines taken approximately 1 year ago.

 The second way of generating power from the tides is using tidal stream technologies. This is a much newer renewable energy technology, and at present there are not many working examples. One of furthest progressed technologies is Marine Current Turbine's machine, which acts like an underwater wind turbine or boat propeller and has been deployed in Strangford Loch in Northern Ireland. There are also several other potential ways of harnessing tidal stream power, but these are at present all at theoretical or prototype stage.

Ocean thermal energy conversion

Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC for short is a theoretical way of getting renewable energy out of the sea, by taking advantage of the temperature difference between surface seawater and deep deawater.  This is a simple process, although it requires some explanation.

Whilst there is a temperature difference it is not very large, which limits the choices available for the removal of the energy.  The most common option would be to use a rankine cycle.  In this system the hot water at the surface of the surface of the ocean is used to turn another liquid (the so called working fluid) into a gas.  Obviously this other liquid would have to have a low boiling point and so a substance such as isobutane may be used.  This working fluid is then driven through a turbine which can be connected to a generator to produce renewable electricity.  The working fluid which exits the turbine is then cooled back from a gas into a liquid by using the cool water from the deep ocean.  This cooled liquid can then start the process again.  This is shown in the video above which was produced to show how OTEC could power the island of Peurto Rico.


Geothermal are renewable energy sources which utilise the heat within the earth to create either a source of renewable heat or renewable electricity. On the right is a video explaining how geothermal power works.


It is possible to get renewable energy from the waves, using a series of devices. Up until recently these devices were still at the prototype stage, but recently the first commercial wave energy devices have been deployed to usher in a new type of renewable energy technology. Most wave energy devices are used to generate renewable electricity, but there have been plans to use the energy to pump water.

Waves are originally formed by winds, and like all renewable energy sources some areas have a better resource than others. Some of the best areas for wave energy are the east coast of Japan, the eastern coast of Australia, Hawaii and the western coast of Europe. It is no surprise therefore that some of the primary designers of wave energy devices come from these regions. Ideas for capturing energy from the waves are diverse in nature and so some of the major ideas are detailed below.

Video of how the Pelamis works

The Pelamis device was one of the most advanced of all wave energy devices, as it has been installed commercially to create a wave farm at Agucadoura in Portugal, after previously being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Pelamis is a long snake like device made up of a series of articulated tubes. These individual tubes follow the waves as they pass, resulting in the tubes moving independently up and down. This movement results in hydraulic fluid being pumped between the tubes, and this movement of hydraulic fluid is what is used to generate renewable electricity. This process is shown in the Greenpeace video above. Unfortunately, the company who manufactured the Pelamis recently ran out of money and therefore the future of this piece of technology is uncertain.

Another device is Wave Dragon and this works by using arms to concentrate and increase the height of the waves towards a central point. The water is at an increased height, and then falls back down to the normal level, and as it does so it produces renewable electricity. This is an example of an over-topping device.

Another idea for getting power from the waves is to use buoys. These move up and down as the waves pass. This movement can be used to generate electricity as shown by a device by Fred Olsen Renewables.

EU video on how the Wave Dragon works

Another device is Wave Dragon and this works by using arms to concentrate and increase the height of the waves towards a central point. The water is at an increased height, and then falls back down to the normal level, and as it does so it produces renewable electricity. This is an example of an over-topping device.  A video explaining how it works is shown on the right.

Another idea for getting power from the waves is to use buoys. These move up and down as the waves pass. This movement can be used to generate electricity as shown by a device by Fred Olsen Renewables.

Solar electric

Solar electric relies on the power of the sun to generate renewable electricty through a variety of mediums. There are a series of ways of converting a solar energy resource into renewable electricty including photovoltaics (PV), solar chimneys and concentrated solar power.

Solar photovoltaics is probably the first idea which most people have when they think about generating renewable energy from the sun. They work when light strikes a plate. There are two materials with a small distance in between and when the light hits one of these plates electrons start to flow and when the panel is connected to the grid renewable electricity starts to flow. These materials are generally made out of specially treated silicon, although there are a few alternatives which have recently come onto the market. Photovoltaic panels are included in many objects, such as satellites and calculators.

Solar chimneys are another idea. They rely on a large area of land being covered in a transparent material suspended above the ground. This material increases in height towards the centre where there will be a large tube which goes up into the air. This will vary in height depending on the amount of area covered by the glazing, but it could in fact be one kilometre or more. The chimney works as the area under the glazing is heated, creating the air to rise. There is a lower pressure at the top of the chimney than the bottom because of the rising air, and so turbines are used which utilise this pressure difference to turn a generator which in turn generates renewable elecrticity.  Shown above is an animation of how a planned solar chimney in Australia will work.

Concentrated solar

Concentrated solar is another way of generating renewable electricity using the power of the sun. At present there are a large number of ways of doing this, but there are always some similarities in all concentrated solar projects. This, as the name would suggest, is the fact that they utilise some method to concentrate the power of the sun into a smaller area than it would normally occur in, and this is generally done using a mirrored surface.

The first way of generating renewable electricity using concentrated solar power is to use a number of heliostatic mirrors. These are mirrors which follow the sun in such a way that they reflect the light on a given point. There can be many, as shown in this video to the right which was taken near Saville, Spain. Due to the large number of mirrors reflecting light onto a very small point this very small point becomes very hot. This intense heat can be utilised in a number of ways, although the most common is to use it to turn a liquid into steam, which can be used to drive a turbine to generate renewable electricity.

Aside from these two ways the light can be concentrated onto a different power take-off scheme. Some systems look at concentrating light on photovoltaics panels to generate renewable electricity, and others look at concentrating light on stirling engines to produce movement which can be harnessed to create renewable electricity.

Solar heat

Like solar electric, solar heat also relies on the sun, only this time instead of converting the power of the sun into electricity it creates a form of renewable heat.

Solar energy is primarily captured in one of two ways. These are passive and active solar energy collection.

In passive energy collection a building is designed so that it makes maximum use of the earth's sunlight for heating purposes.  Thus, a house in the northern hemisphere will be extensively glazed on the south facing walls. 

In active solar heating either a flat plate collector or evacuated tubes are used. Evacuated tubes rely on a series of vacuums and so have the greater efficiency, but cost approximately twice as much as flat plates. However, whatever choice of panel, the output is hot water. This water can be used for several purposes. Most obviously it can be used as a supply of hot water for bathing/washing. However it can also be used as a renewable source of heating, although as would be expected often the demand for heating is inversely proportional to the solar radiation. As such a modern option is for solar thermal cooling, and with complicated thermodynamics the heat of the sun can be utilised to create renewable building cooling!

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are a way of converting a small amount of electricity into heat (or cooling). There is some controversy over whether they should be classed as a renewable energy source, but they are generally classed as a low carbon energy source. Generally though, the heat output can be classed as renewable if the electricity which is used to power it is renewable. Heat pumps can come in several forms - ground source heat pumps, water source heat pumps and air source heat pumps. The video above shows how a heat pump can be used to heat (and cool) a school along with examples.

Body kinetics

This is another source of energy which is very much in it's infancy.  This is all to do with utilising the movement of the human body.  At present it is possible to buy torches which are charged by the human hand shaking or winding them.  There are also watches which are powered by the movement of arms.  These may seem like quite trivial uses for this new renewable energy, but this technology also has the potential to save lives by utilising the concept for use in military equipment for special forces and even more importantly in pacemakers.  There are also floors which make use of the movement of human's above to create renewable electricity-within Europe several clubs have such a floor as do shopping centres at their entrance.

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Comments 104 comments

guidebaba profile image

guidebaba 8 years ago from India

Good explanation.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks. I plan to add more information in when I have more time. I have also decided that as a technical description of each one will take up loads of space that I will create new pages on each technology and link in.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

solar? This is a decent overview.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Cheers for the compliment.  I intend on adding more details on solar, wave, geothermal etc when I have time as it took longer than I expected to do this!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

Looking forward to it.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Hi Bob. Now added more on solar although haven't done all the stuff on concentrated yet including stirling engines.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Clear, simple and a wonderful overview......particularly like your explanation of solar power. It can get so confusing to the newbie. Kudos on a job well done:-)

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Cheers for that, think there are still a few things which I could do to make it better and have been editing it almost constantly since first publishing it.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

Fantastic hub - really detailed, but easy to understand as well. Not the easiest of combinations to do!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

Nice comprehensive overview of energy source options. It sure sems like many of these could be put to more extensive use. Hopefully thae day will come.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Congratulations Bristolboy for being part of this weeks hubnuggets! Keep writing and sharing. Don't forget to invite as many people as you can to join the hubnuggets fun!

Guys, if you find this hub interesting and informative like we do click this link and vote:

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for all the compliments everyone. Also I would urge anyone who wants to vote to check out the other hubs first before voting. It's only fair. Thanks.

k@ri profile image

k@ri 8 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Great Hub! Very clear, informative and easy to understand. I used to drive by wind turbines when I lived in New Mexico. At first I didn't know what to think, it was amazing to see hundreds of these lined up on the ridge.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Hundreds probably would be an amazing site. Over here in the UK there isn't as much space and so it is much more likely to see just one or two turbines dotted around. Looks really good though.

Essy84 profile image

Essy84 8 years ago

Great hub, loads of detailed info. Will vote for this one in the hub nuggets :)

I haven't checked the other hubs you are linking to, but maybe you can link to (or make another hub about) DIY solutions for renewable energy (there are a few affiliate programs out there so you could make a nice buck on the side as well)

If people apply renewable energy at home, this would be the biggest contribution we can individually make to help the environment.

Apart from writing nice hubs about it of course :)

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Cheers. That makes me think that maybe I should include a section on micro-generation in this hub which I will do soon.

mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 8 years ago

Really nice overview of some of the alternatives!

midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

nice hub, well explained and easy to be understood.

Essy84 profile image

Essy84 8 years ago

No prob :) You actually got me thinking about the subject, so today I made a hub on different tax credits and government grants people can get for "green" home improvements. I split them up per country and put links to every government site where you can find cash incentives to "go green". Won't put the link here because that would be self promoting, but you might be interested to take a look.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Cheers to midnightbliss and mulberry1. Have had a look and it is a good introduction and I don't mind posting the link here: I have commented on that blog as well about how complex the UK grant system is.

Essy84 profile image

Essy84 8 years ago

Thanks dude :) Although you added a dot after the URL so it doesn't work.. appreciate it though.

By the way, you joined 2 weeks ago, spit out 8! hubs already...? :| And no half-*rsed stuff either, impressive. Haha I did 3 in 4 months :P Keep up the good hubbin'!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

It's all stuff I am very familiar with so writing it is very easy. Trying to improve the ones I hav written already before I start any news ones though.

EcoAsh profile image

EcoAsh 8 years ago from Hemet

I've been to a biomass plant out in Mecca,CA. I think that there should be more. And increase tidal/wave energy.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 8 years ago from Bristol Author

Well in the UK there are fewer biomass plants around which is a shame, but the area in which I live is extremely big on wave and tidal, and obviously it is a big growth area for the whole of the UK and Ireland.

kashifmahmood profile image

kashifmahmood 7 years ago from Web

Not much left for me to say except GREAT INFORMATION !

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Top draw hub! The assembly of links is excellent, and this makes for a very informative and useful hub. I have not seen a better collection of information.

Very well done, and thank you for the hard work you have done, your performance here has been amazing so far, do write more hubs. I will have to wait until I have more time to finish reading all of the links.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks once again for the compliments - they encourage me to produce more siimilar hubs.

ramkumar45 profile image

ramkumar45 7 years ago from INDIA

very informative hub on alternative energy

ngureco profile image

ngureco 7 years ago

This is what an informative hub should look like. Thank you.

The world need people like you who will spread the word out that people need to use clean energy to control global warming and climate change.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for the kind comments. In addition to renewable energy technologies being good for the environment they also have a host of other benefits, including financial for the country in which they are located.

joseph 7 years ago

good answer ......

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment Joseph!

JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

This is certainly great. I wish we have more of this kind of alternative energy. It will surely help the environment. Very nice hub... You've done it again!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Alternative energy like this will definitely help save the environment, as well as creating jobs and reducing imports of fossil fuels!

viryabo profile image

viryabo 7 years ago

Another great hub, BB. The 3rd world countries needs to be sensitised about this Renewable energy. A lot of them are still groping with old methods, which cost so much money and carry many health risks. Dependence on fossil fuels should be reduced systematically. We need a cleaner better, and healthier world.

Well done.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment Viryabo. I agree that action needs to be taken to show the benefits of renewable energy to third world countries as they often have the best resource as they are in areas with high wind/good sun etc. Furthermore they are often the countries with the oldest, least efficient ways of generating energy. It is interesting to note that the relatively poor nation of Mauritius is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2020, presumably through the use of such sources of natural energy.

Deborah-Lynn profile image

Deborah-Lynn 7 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Thanks for this Hub BristolBoy, quite an overview for someone interested in beginning to search for an appropriate renewable energy source for their business or home, so many choices! :)

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Deborah-Lynn I agree that there are many different sources of renewable energy/natural sources of energy which people choose to use for their home or business and I hope that I have provided a good overview of them all here!

James Gilbert profile image

James Gilbert 7 years ago

Wow. What a great explanation of renewable energy. Learned a ton! It's pretty amazing there are so many options, before reading this hub I would have said solar and wind. Geothermal is fascinating. I was happy to learn the smoke billowing out of the stack was just steam, I thought it was pollution till they explained it!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

James Gilbert there are many different forms of renewable energy. You are by no means alone in classing wind and solar as the only forms of renewable energy which you were aware of - many people think the same which is probably due to them being the most widely used in recent times.

SuperSkyRockets profile image

SuperSkyRockets 7 years ago from United Kingdom

This hub gives an excellent portrayal of the sheer multitude of examples that exist out there that could be utilised in a greener world. We can just hope that they will be!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

As I said SuperSkyRocket this is only a quick overview of some of the main renewable energy resources, but I hope that by writing it it will help others understand more about renewable energy.

profile image

luxtor 7 years ago

The 2 easiest and most effective systems that I have built are based on wind and solar energy systems. They are great ways to produce electrical power as they harness free sources of energy that are both renewable and clean.

skristoff profile image

skristoff 7 years ago from Massachusetts

Excellent hub, what a ton of information!

thaninja profile image

thaninja 7 years ago from America

I am still dreaming up my perpetual motion machine....all energy comes from the sun in some way or other.

It's amazing that gravity and light have been converted into so many other harnessed forms of energy

Sexy jonty profile image

Sexy jonty 7 years ago from India

Very well written hub .....

very much informative ......

Thank you very much for your great hub, for good advice, good wishes and support. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment luxtor, skristoff, thaninja and Sexy jonty on this hub of renewable energy sources. I am glad you all found it interesting and thaninja - if you do manage to make a perpertual motion machine you will be a very rich man!

MaryElena profile image

MaryElena 7 years ago

I would love to add some solar panels to my house if I could afford them.

Lose Belly Fat Fast 7 years ago

It's staggering how much energy tides can produce! I had no idea before witnessing it with my own eyes!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

MaryElena you may be surprised how cheap solar panels can be in many areas of the world due to various government grants/interest free loans.

Lose Belly Fat Fast the tides do have a massive potential. The plan for a Severn Barrage in the UK would have the capacity of up to 20 nuclear power stations!

Singular Investor profile image

Singular Investor 7 years ago from Oxford

Excellent hub BB - a ton of information but I still hav a question.

I've asked it on another hub but I'll ask it here too and maybe I'll start a campaign. My question is - Why don't they put solar panels on wind turbines ? Wind turbines stand out in the sun all day long, surely they could stick sone solar panels on the bit that doesn't move and get two sources of energy for the price of one? Seems nuts to me to build a whopping great tower and totally underuse its possibilities. But WTF do I know ?

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

Hi Singular Investor. A very good question. That does make sense from a purely energy point of view. I guess a similar thing could be asked about wave and tidal devices around offshore wind farms.

The main issues is financial - the cost of generating electricity using solar panels is much more than the cost of generating electricity using wind turbines. The wholesale price of electricity is less than the price individuals pay for the supply to their homes, and so whilst it may be relatively economic to have solar panels on the home it is less so on a commercial wind turbine. Furthermore, solar panels generate DC electricity, whereas the grid transmits using AC so there are further costs associated with this. However it would be possible to overcome these and if the cost of panels comes down there may very well be solar panels on wind turbines in the future.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

This is a very detailed Hub - but there is still more to say. I am thinking about controversy over sources of power. Our local opera house has been trying to erect a wind turbint - provoked outrage! You could probably write at least 2 hubs describing the arguments for and against.

Singular Investor profile image

Singular Investor 7 years ago from Oxford

Thanks for the info. BB - on another hub I was told that there are now 'wraparound' solar collectors that they are putting on poles to power street lights, so maybe the idea will spread.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol Author

2patricias I could write probably hundreds of pages about the pros and cons of renewable energy schemes - now I am in the industry I know how hard it is to get planning permission especially in the UK!

Singular Investor there are such solar panels now in use. There are even ones which are incorporated into T-shirts etc!Only issue is the obvious cost (such wraparound panels cost more than conventional ones for power produced).

ddhamilt profile image

ddhamilt 6 years ago

I'm all for this, we need to spread the word. Everyone tell everyone you know about this hub!

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

I agree ddhamilt. Whether you agree with global warming or not there is no arguments that many forms of conventional energy result in environmental damage and that conventional energy sources of energy are going to one day run out so we should conserve them by using natural sources of energy.

nightstalker 6 years ago

In did, a lot of valid information, but you didn’t mention magnetic power. Don’t you think that is a legitimate energy alternative?

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Nightstalker I think magnetic power is an absolute scam and not true renewable energy!

Rismayanti profile image

Rismayanti 6 years ago from Tropical Island

very informatif, .. thank for share ur great hub. i will follow

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Hi Rismayanti. I am glad you found this hub which outlines the different sort of renewable energy technologies useful!

solar.power profile image

solar.power 6 years ago from Brisbane

Very interesting. I appreciate the youtube videos also

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for the comment solar.power. Of course solar power is just one of the many different sources of renewable energy available - which I hope you now have a better understanding of!

indsloan profile image

indsloan 6 years ago

Gravity is real and can be harnessed. I built 2 types to prove it can be done. coming soon to every one.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

indsloan at the moment there are no such schemes commercially being deployed (other than hydropower which could be called gravity power) but if your plans do work you could become very rich very quickly!

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa


Good explanation of various sources of energy.

Solar panels are a great home improvement project for novice homeowners in Arizona and California.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Jon Ewall thanks for commenting. Solar panels are definitely a good project in many areas and can actually add considerable value to the home in certain circumstances.

GreenTech Energy 6 years ago

Wind turbines generally have a set of three blades which rotate at 10–30 revolutions per minute. The blades face into the wind, the wind forces them to go round, which then spins a shaft inside the turbine, which is connected to a generator which produces electricity.

Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (when it displaces fossil-fuel-derived electricity). It has a great potential in both onshore and offshore wind farms.

Wind power is currently the largest component of renewables generation (excluding large scale hydropower). Globally, the capacity for generating electricity by wind power increased more than fivefold from 2000 to 2007, and the rate of increase has been rising in recent years (suggesting even faster rates of capacity growth in the coming years). By 2007, wind power accounted for approximately 19 per cent of electricity production in Denmark, nine per cent in Spain and Portugal, and six per cent in Germany.

Wind energy applications in the UK range from small battery-charging applications producing useful electricity remote from the electricity distribution network, to large wind farms producing electricity competitive with conventional power stations.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment GreenTech Energy.

scla profile image

scla 6 years ago from Southern California

Great explanation on renewable energy sources. We definitely need to start focusing on more of this and not just in future but right now. I live and Southern California and I really do think that the impact and stress that we have been putting on our environment is starting to show. I have lived here for 35 years and we are now starting to see the most unusual weather I think. We are actually getting rain and thunderstorms in the middle of summer, which is unheard of here.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Scla thanks for commenting! We definitely do need to use more renewable energy. Not only does it emit less pollution - but it removes reliance on foreign countries - something us in Europe have had issues with when the Russians have cut off gas for political reasons!

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa


IF YOU ARE PLANNING A RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT.Check with your local government representatives regarding how to get grants, financing and government rebates.In addition sometimes your local electric power company may be able to give you some assistance.

Last but not least, check your city building codes for building restrictions before you build your project.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

That is very good advice on renewable energy Jon Ewall!

JON EWALL profile image

JON EWALL 6 years ago from usa


Your welcome.Check out articles on my site if you have any interest in renewable energy projects.

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ankigarg87 6 years ago

What a great hub - filled with great information.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

Ankigarg87 - thanks for your kind words on this hub. I hope you learned something about renewable energy!

harrisonT 6 years ago

Awseome source of info! Just read that a european company that does propane/electricity distribution just entered into the wind energy end of things. Alan Waxman from Goldman Sachs said they're going to be really active in helping grow this area now. Like someone mentioned, it'll be interesting to see how/if energy sources are combined to come up with even better methods. Thanks again for writing!

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adair_francesca 6 years ago

Great hub. I enjoyed reading it because it is well detailed and informative.

wsupaul88 profile image

wsupaul88 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

Great Hub! lots of information and details!

harry 6 years ago

very excellent explanation! and because of the videos you posted, the students can see how alternative energy sources are used.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 6 years ago from Bristol Author

harrisonT, adair_francescam wsupaul88 and harry thanks for all commenting. I am glad you found this page to be of some use in instructing you of some of the different renewable energy technologies available.

anemometers profile image

anemometers 5 years ago from Anemometer Installation Areas

Body Kinetics is a new word for me. Thanks for teaching it

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 5 years ago from Bristol Author

anemomters they say you learn something new every day and I am glad you now know about body kinetics - an unusual form of renewable energy I am sure you will agree!

bob 5 years ago

good job

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 5 years ago from Bristol Author

Thanks Bob! I am glad you liked this page!

rainmist profile image

rainmist 5 years ago from Las Vegas

Body Kinetics is a new word for me too

thank you for sharing

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 5 years ago from Bristol Author

I am glad you learnt something (although body kinetics is two words!)

vambo profile image

vambo 5 years ago from The Bush Anus Parlor

a very comprehensive post or will have a great future with careful data like this at their young fingertips...kudos!

Pdxrecycler profile image

Pdxrecycler 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

I think this was a great overview of renewable energy technologies, but I would love to see some of the "cons" of each technology discussed. For instance, hydropower sounds great, but it can actually be devastating to habitats.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 5 years ago from Bristol Author

Vambo and Pdxrecycler thanks for the positive feedback. I did consider adding the pros and cons of each technology, but felt such a section would make this unbearably long!

gril 5 years ago


Natgreenz profile image

Natgreenz 5 years ago

Wonderful post. Most of the renewable energy methods mentioned here are not covered by most publishers on the internet and sadly does not receive enough coverage. Your hub stands out for that very reason. Continue doing what you are doing.

georgethegent profile image

georgethegent 5 years ago from Hillswick, Shetland, UK

Good overview of the variety of renewable sources. It is a pity that it isn't used more.

ankur 5 years ago

nice post

mcdroid profile image

mcdroid 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Nicely constructed Hub BristolBoy - will be trying to learn from you myself!

stephanie 5 years ago


Arnold! 4 years ago

needed this for a school assessment task! was very helpful!

fred 4 years ago

yeah me too

Fred 4 years ago

yeah its a really good site for renewable resources

Java Programs profile image

Java Programs 4 years ago from India

Hi BristolBoy,

A very informative article about renewable resource of energy .... every resource of energy is important .... we are not utilizing much of natural resources of energy .....

thanks for the wonderful article .... keep up the good work ....

auirek profile image

auirek 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Woow the Wave Dragon can be placed anywhere on any coast. Imagine having many of these energy sources. Now I see the petrol energy as being only a business made by politicians.

Archa Ghodge profile image

Archa Ghodge 4 years ago from India

Nice should start using the renewable source of energy on large scale.

BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 4 years ago from Bristol Author

All, thank you for all your kind words - I hope this article on renewable energy has inspired you to support such alternative energy sources in your own regions of the world. As can be seen, there is something for everywhere!

adevwriting profile image

adevwriting 19 months ago from United Countries of the World

OTEC seems good!

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