How Energy is Generated and Stored

Non Renewable Energy

Power is need for all manufacturing, whether it’s heat, light or electricity. There are several ways of generating this power which all have pros and cons attached to them.

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels are formed underground over millions of years, the three main types are coal, oils and gas. They are burnt to generate power generally by heating water to turn a turbine to power a generator.


  • It’s a cost effective way of generating power.

  • There is currently enough available.

  • We have resources available in this country.


  • They will eventually run out and can’t be replaced.

  • They release greenhouse gases which are harmful to the environment.

  • Getting the fuel out of the ground can damage the environment around it.

Nuclear Power

How Energy is Generated and Stored, figure 1

Nuclear fission from uranium generates heat to power turbines in the same way as fossil fuels.


  • It’s very reliable.

  • Nuclear fuel (uranium) is cheap and needs less to produce power than fossil fuels.

  • It produces very low levels of emissions.


  • Uranium will eventually run out.

  • Power plants are expensive to build and run.

  • Waste product is dangerous to dispose of.

  • There is a small risk of meltdown which would be catastrophic for the environment around the power plant.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has infinite power, it will never run out. To help the environment renewable energy generation is being encouraged worldwide:

Wind power – Harnesses the wind to turn a turbine to generate power.

Solar power – Solar cells generate electricity from the sun.

Geo thermal - Harnesses the power of heat from underground hot springs.

Tidal power – Barrages generate power by turning a turbine as the tide comes in and out.

Hydro-electric – Generates power through water falling through a turbine, from the top of a hill to the bottom.

Biomass boilers – Use waste products from wood or crops to burn creating the heat to turn the turbine.

How Energy is Generated and Stored, figure 1


  • After set up costs the energy supply is free.

  • The energy source is infinite and will never run out.


  • It costs a lot to set up.

  • You are dependent on the weather for wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

  • The turbines and cells needed to generate power can be ugly and have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Manufacturers are becoming more and more likely to harness natural power sources, it reflects well on their environmental aims, it can save money in the long run and stops as much dependence on fossil fuels.

Whilst most energy generation in this country is sent to the national grid to be sent out through the mains supply energy can also be stored in batteries. The store energy inside and come in various sizes, from watch batteries to car batteries. They can provide a movable source of electricity. There are two main types of batteries:

Alkaline batteries - Can’t be used again once the power is used, they are hard to dispose of unless they are recycled properly. They are used in remote controls, toys, torches and clocks.

Rechargeable batteries - Unlike alkaline batteries these can have power put back in. They are more expensive but better for the environment as they last longer. Used in cars, mobile phones and power tools. Products can be made with a built in rechargeable battery such as a photovoltaic cell or a wind up battery.

Exam questions often ask you to provide examples of renewable and non-renewable energy and their pros and cons.