Renewable energy

Where can I find information about renewable energy?

Image: Blue solar panel by Chelsea on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 29/05/20

Introduction

Renewable energy comes from natural sources such as the sun, wind and water. These sources are sustainable as there is no risk of them running out. Using renewable energy sources is an important way to help fight climate change, unlike fossil fuels like coal and petrol which are non-renewable and contribute to global warming. Renewable energy is also called alternative energy, or sustainable power.

Types of renewable energy

Here is a list of some of the main types of renewable energy.

Hydro energy: Produced when a dam is built across a river to produce electricity or hydro-electric power. It is one of the main forms of renewable energy that we use in New Zealand.

Geothermal energy: Comes from power plants that use the heat that comes from springs and vents in the earth to create electricity. This has been used in New Zealand since the 1950s.

Solar energy: Energy that comes from the sun. People harvest this using solar panels.

Wind energy: Comes from the wind and is harvested using wind farms. We have several wind farms in New Zealand.

Tidal energy: Comes from the movement of the waves in the ocean. Devices then capture this energy and turn it into electricity.

Biomass energy: Comes from firewood, or solid or liquid waste products, like sewage plants using methane to get energy.

General websites

The websites below will help you find information on renewable or alternative energy sources, and how these energies are collected and stored.

Britannica School

Britannica School is part of EPIC, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It is put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions on different types of renewable energy.

  • Choose either Primary or Middle level, then enter the words 'alternative energy', or search for a specific type of energy, like 'solar power'.
  • Select the articles called alternative energy and solar energy to get a good understanding of this topic.
  • If the article is too hard or too easy, you can change the Article Reading Level from the top of the page.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg Solar energy. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

DK Find Out

This is the Dorling Kindersley online encyclopedia which has information on all sorts of topics, with lots of interactives and diagrams.

  • Select the Subjects link at the top of the page.
  • Next choose Science.
  • Then, scroll down the page to Energy for an introduction to different types of energy.
  • Another useful topic to look at is Electricity. View the diagram on Generating Electricity to understand how electricity is made.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Science Learning Hub

This website links New Zealand scientists with school students and teachers. It uses a range of media to explain various science concepts.

  • Start typing in the words 'renewable energy' and select the link called Renewable energy sources from the results that come up in the search box.
  • This page has pictures, information and videos to explain renewable energy and its various sources.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

The Kid Should See This

This website has heaps of kid friendly videos selected by teaches and parents on science, art, technology and music.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

New Zealand sites

These websites are the best place to find out about the best sources of renewable energy available in New Zealand and its impact on climate change.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

There is information about renewable energy in New Zealand in 2 sections of this website.

  • From the home page, choose the section Economy and the city.
  • Then choose Infrastructure and Services.
  • Read Energy supply and use to find how New Zealand produces and uses its energy.
  • Next read the story on Hydroelectricity about the development of hydro power and its impact on the environment.

There are also articles about renewable sources of energy that come from the earth.

  • Scroll down and choose the section Earth, sea and sky.
  • Next go to Hot springs and geothermal energy to find out about geothermal energy.
  • Then select Climate and atmosphere to find out about Wind and solar power.

EECA - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority

This is New Zealand's government agency that works to improve the energy efficiency of New Zealand homes and businesses, and is working hard to encourage New Zealanders to use renewable energy.

  • From the homepage, select the tab Energy use in New Zealand from along the top of the page.
  • The page Climate change and energy explains why we need to use renewable energy sources to help fight climate change.
  • The page Renewable energy resources has heaps of information about the types that we use in New Zealand, like hydroelectricity, bioenergy and marine energy, including pros and cons of each one.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

Topic Explorer (National Library)

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of quality resources for students in a range of formats from reliable national and international sources.

  • Scroll down the page and select the topics Electricity and Power.
  • Explore from the range of images, articles, video, audio and articles.
  • Both these topics deal with production of energy from renewable and non-renewable sources.
Tips: We like sites like Te Ara, the EECA and Topic Explorer because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Books

Have a look for some of these books, or ask your school or local librarian to help you find more!

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