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What are the different types of renewable energy?

Posted on 17 October 2016

Renewable energy is becoming an increasingly important topic, with many of us looking for new ways to reduce the impact we’re having on the world. At Co-operative Energy, we’re committed to tackling climate change, and renewable energy plays an important role in this.

As a Co-operative Energy customer, you get the opportunity to pick exactly where your energy comes from, putting the power back in your hands. Want 100% of your power to come from wind turbines? No problem. How about 50% solar and 50% hydro? Simple. With our User Chooser, you can customise your own energy mix and even choose where in the UK your energy is sourced from.

There are five main types of renewable energy – wind power, solar energy, bioenergy, geothermal energy and hydroelectric energy – each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Find out more about our energy sources

Wind Power

Humans have been using wind power for thousands of years, whether it be to power windmills to grind flour or push sails to keep boats moving. Modern wind turbines harness power from wind and convert this kinetic energy into mechanical energy, generating electricity.  

Wind power is seen to be a reliable form of renewable energy, as wind levels remain steady from year to year and don’t drop during peak hours. However, the amount of wind turbines needed to produce the same amount of electricity as fossil fuel powered plants means the construction of wind farms is still quite costly.

Solar Energy

Solar power is one of the most popular, fastest growing sources of renewable energy. Solar panels work using photovoltaic (PV) cells, which absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Solar panels are one of the eco-friendliest upgrades you can make to your home. An average domestic solar panel system can save over 30 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, making them a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money.

Find out more about solar panels


Bioenergy, sometimes referred to as biomass energy, is a form of renewable energy derived from any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Some of the most common types of materials used to create biomass energy are wood, manure and rubbish. These substances are then burned, giving off energy in the form of heat, or converted into methane gases, ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is derived from heat given off from the Earth, either from hot springs, magma channels and hydrothermal circulation. This heat energy is then used to turn turbines or heat buildings, and is considered to be a reliable renewable source of energy. One issue, however, is that geothermal energy can only be harnessed in certain locations where there are high levels of geothermal activity, such as Iceland, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy refers to electrical energy generated from the kinetic energy created by moving water. One of the most popular ways of harnessing hydroelectric energy is through the use of dams, which contain turbines which water runs through to generate electricity.

Wondering what else you can do to reduce your carbon footprint? Check out our infographic showing you how to make your home more energy efficient.  

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