Everything you need to know about alternative energy

While school science lessons may be no more than a memory for some of us, the basics of energy transfer are likely to still ring a bell. Traditional energy relies on fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Formed millions of years ago, the energy in fossil fuels can be unlocked through combustion, transforming it to heat and light for our homes.

So what will happen when we run out of fossil fuels? To help make the future a cleaner, more sustainable place, we're looking to alternative energy.

Alternative energy examples

So when compared to traditional energy, what exactly is alternative energy?

Instead of burning coal, oil and natural gas, alternative forms of energy makes use of renewable fuels that don't deplete the earth's natural resources – and produce little to no harmful pollution in the process.

These are just a few of the sustainable fuel sources that provide an excellent contribution to the energy mix.

Wind

Wind farms harness the natural power of the wind to generate power by turning the blades of large wind turbines.

By transferring the kinetic energy of the wind's movement as people have done for centuries, these wind turbines help create huge amounts of electricity without burning any fuel or leaving waste products behind.

At EDF Energy, we currently operate 28 wind farms in the UK with a total install capacity of over 500 megawatts. That's enough electricity to power 40,000 homes across the UK. Find out about our wind farms on the EDF Energy wind energy page

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power is an alternative energy source that uses the force of water (either from ocean tides, or pushed through a dam) to spin huge turbines and generate clean power without burning fuel.

One of the advantages of hydroelectric power is that it has the capacity to produce a consistent amount of electricity, as unlike wind, the tides of the ocean are entirely predictable. No need to wait for the right weather!

However, because of the nature of the UK's geography there are only a small amount of sites where water can be harnessed on a large scale, but the hydroelectric sites that are available provide about 2.1% of the UK electricity generation mix.

Find out more about hydro power on the EDF hydro-electricity page

Solar

Who doesn't love the sunshine? Although many of us in the UK don't see as much of it as we like, the sun is an excellent renewable energy source, and when it's out in force then solar panels are a wonderful way to capture waste-free renewable energy from the sun's rays.

Alongside other sources, solar power is a great part of the energy mix - and one that's growing year on year.

If you install solar panels for your home, you may be eligible to register for a Feed-In Tariff, and be paid by the government in return for contributing alternative energy to the national grid. 

Get solar panels with us. Find out all you need to know on our solar installation page and check if you're eligible for the Feed-In tariff

Our energy mix

We use a range of fuel sources include traditional, alternative and nuclear, and every year we publish full details of where the energy we generate comes from.

You can find out more about our energy mix on our energy mix page.