Energy Town


Notes on The town is going renewable

  • To have a basic understanding of how a wind turbine generates electricity
  • To know that there are many factors affecting where a wind farm is built and to name some of these
  • To know that energy needs to be transported from where it is generated to where it is used
  • To know that the National Grid is a giant network of overhead lines and underground cables used to transport all of the electricity supplies around the country
  • To know that the generation of electricity depends on varying demand and that supply needs to be flexible to meet this

Key words: energy, generator, shaft, gearbox, rotor, electricity, renewable energy source, biomass, PV solar panels, turbines, hydroelectric scheme, power lines, National Grid, demand, supply, distribution.

Estimated time: total duration 50 mins; Part 1: 10 mins, Part 2: 10 mins, Part 3: 15 mins, Part 4: 15 mins


Most pupils will: demonstrate a basic understanding of how a wind turbine works; understand that there are a number of factors affecting where a wind farm or other power scheme can be built; know what some of these factors are; know what is meant by electricity distribution; understand the issues involved in routing power lines; know that electricity must be supplied to meet demand and that supply and demand can be affected by factors such as weather and time of day.

Pupils working at a lower level will: know that wind turbines generate electricity; understand that there are good places to locate a power station or wind farm and places that are not so good; know that power lines carry electricity; understand that power stations and renewable energy sources supply electricity and that wind strength can affect the output of wind farms.

Pupils working at a higher level will also: explain how a wind turbine works; know the most important factors in siting a power plant; know what the National Grid is and understand its role in transporting energy; explain some of the factors affecting the demand and supply of energy and their causes.

Notes: This challenge gives pupils (aged 7–11) a chance to look at important issues related to the generation of electricity in the future by helping an imaginary town select renewable energy sources.

Explain to the class that renewable energy sources are sources like wind that will not run out, unlike non-renewable energy sources like coal that will only last for a limited time. Say that renewable energy sources may be important sources in the future because when sources like coal run out, they will need to be replaced by other sources so we can continue to produce energy. Tell the class that in this challenge, they will help a town change its supply of electricity to renewable energy sources.

Most pupils will be able to complete Part 1: How will it work? independently and they can refer to the Energy sources section or Information card 1: Energy source: wind to find out how wind energy works if they need extra help.

Part 2: Where will it work? could be carried out as a whole class, using an interactive whiteboard if available, with pupils coming out to click on their chosen location, after a group decision.

Part 3: How do we get the electricity to where we need it? can be completed in pairs with help provided for additional support pupils who may need assistance in working out the best route.

Part 4: How much energy do we need? is a challenging activity that could be carried out in groups, with the most able pupils unsupervised. Additional support pupils may need help with reading warning messages and the changing conditions, although they will enjoy operating the controls. The concept of the National Grid needs to be explained carefully to pupils. Tell pupils that the National Grid is a giant network of overhead lines and underground cables used to transport all of the electricity supplies around the country. This means that electricity can be supplied to wherever it is needed in the UK.

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