The 6 primary types of Renewable Energy

By Chris Bradshaw on June 8th, 2011

Renewable energy is becoming more and more prevalent around the world, but it is still not the dominant energy resource. 

The primary 6 types of renewable energy are solar, wind, biomass, hydro power, geothermal and biofuels.  Each of these renewable energy sources provides an alternative to traditional energy generation and can be reproduced, reducing our footprint on the environment.

With so much dependency placed upon our natural resources to produce our much needed energy, scientists have been evaluating and producing renewable energy as an alternative to traditional energy sources.  Renewable energy is energy that can be reproduced in a short period of time.  The most prevalent forms of renewable energy are solar, wind, biomass, hydro power, geothermal and biofuels.


An abundant source of renewable energy, wind power is used as a means of generating electricity. Wind turbines are capable of harnessing the power derived from the wind, converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy. A source of clean, green renewable energy, favourable climate conditions in Europe means wind energy is a highly viable method for electricity generation. And none more so than in the UK, with 40% of all wind energy in Europe blowing over the country.


In one form or another, solar power has been around for thousands of years. As a renewable source of free, green energy, technology has found a way of harnessing the sun’s energy via solar panels which are used either to generate electricity (solar photovoltaics) or to produce heat to warm water (solar thermal). A popular choice in a growing renewable energy market, solar technology doesn’t generate greenhouse cases and is environmentally friendly.


Biomass energy is produced from organic materials such as plants and animals, but the energy that is produced in this fashion is originally provided by the sun.  For example, plants absorb the sun’s energy through a process called photosynthesies.  This energy is then passed on through the organism that eats the plant, creating biomass energy.  The most common forms used to generate biomass energy are wood, crops, manure and some rubbish.

When these substances are burned, they give off energy as heat.  For example, if you have a wood fuelled heating, you are generating renewable biomass energy.  This is not the only method of generating biomass energy; you can also create biomass energy by converting these substances into methane gases, ethanol and biodiesel fuels which can be translated more easily into our current methods of energy use.


Geothermal energy comes from the original Greek word “Geo” which means Earth. Geothermal energy is derived from the heat that is given off by the Earth.  For example, steam energy or hot water that is generated by the Earth can be used to generate energy.  It is considered to be a renewable source of energy as the water in the Earth is replenished by regular rainfall and the heat used is regularly produced by the planet.

Hydro Power

Hydro energy is derived from the movement of water.  One form of hydro power is generated through the movement of water through turbines, such as water running through turbines in a Dam.  Hydro power is considered a renewable energy source as the water is continuously cycled back through the plant or into nature.


Biofuels are a form of renewable energy derived from burning plant or animal substances, otherwise called combustion. One of the challenges to biofuels has been that it is not easily transferred into a liquid form which is the primary method used to fuel most cars and homes. Two of the most common strategies that are sed to produce biofuels includes: growing crops to produce ethanol and growing plants that produce biofuel oils. While these methods are effective sources of renewable energy, they are challenging to produce and maintain on a large scale.


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