Natural energy sources

Energy is needed for almost everything. From your game console to the heating. We get energy from the earth / nature. There are various natural resources: oil, natural gas and coal. However, these sources are not good for our environment. These resources are also not unlimited: they are running out. There are also sources that are good for the environment: wind power through wind turbines, solar energy through solar panels and hydropower through reservoirs. These resources are unlimited and will never run out, making them very suitable as an alternative to limited resources. The natural resources are the energy resources available to our planet. These sources are located below or on the surface of the globe.

Subterranean resources

The underground resources are oil, coal, natural gas and uranium. We call the first three fossil fuels because they were formed millions of years ago by the degradation of organic material (remains of plants and animals). You could see this as a kind of huge underground compost heap. The disadvantage of fossil fuels is that they disappear slowly because we use them and that they contribute to the greenhouse effect in our atmosphere.


Uranium is a metal that is extracted from minerals and used in nuclear power plants. This is therefore also a source that will be exhausted at some point. When using uranium, no greenhouses are released, but radioactive waste is created. Nuclear plants make their electricity by splitting uranium. The most important uranium mines are located in the United States, Russia, South Africa, Australia and Canada.


Petroleum is a liquid mineral that is drilled at a depth between 1,500 and 3,000 meters. The oil is then taken to the refinery where it is spun into various substances. Petroleum is used as an energy source, but also for making glue and plastic and for many other applications.

Natural gas

Natural gas is less polluting than petroleum, which is extracted from the same layers of earth. The gas is extracted from the earth through drilling, after which it is treated and then often transported over thousands of kilometers via a pipe to the factories.


Coal was created because dead plants died and were compressed. Just like petroleum, it is a fossil fuel. To extract energy (heat and electricity) from it, the coal must be burned, hence the word 'fuel'. Coal is also mined to make plastic, fertilizer and dyes.

Resources on the surface of the earth

The natural energy sources on the surface of the earth are wind, sun and water. We call this energy renewable energy because it does not run out when we use it. Moreover, there is no greenhouse effect when used.

Wind energy

The wind turns the blades of wind turbines or wind turbines and this is how electricity is generated. Wind energy is the energy source that is developing the fastest. However, the wind turbines do stand out in the landscape and depend on strong wind.

Solar energy

Solar panels convert the energy of the sun into electricity. There are also systems where tubes filled with water are placed in the sun. The tubes heat up and transport the heat. This form of energy can only be used when the sun is out.


Hydraulic energy comes from the hydropower at reservoirs. This energy can be used all year round and is very suitable for remote areas, where people are not connected to large power plants. The landscape is disturbed by a dam.

Video: Renewable Energy 101. National Geographic (April 2020).

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