ENERGY for youth

Maximise your power

Energy is the big story in Europe now – and you have a major role to play!

Right now, you’re probably thinking, why should I bother? One small light won’t change the world. Well, just think…

Girl with calculator

A quick calculation…

One 100W light bulb left on for one hour every day consumes 36,5 kWh of energy per year. There are 75 million teenagers in Europe. If we all switch off one light for one hour each day – that’s 36,5 x 75 million = 2738 million kWh of energy saved.

This would prevent 1.37 million tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere – the amount generated by one small power station (150 MWe).

So, you really do have the power to be the hero in our Energy story!

The story doesn’t end there

Switching off lights is a good start. But there are many other ways you can help save the planet’s energy for the future.

girl points at CFL bulb

CFL light bulbs use one fifth of the energy of traditional bulbs, and last eight times as long. They cost more to buy, but actually save you money because they are so efficient. Encourage your school, your family and your friends to see the light and make the change!

Ditch the duck

Having short showers instead of long baths also helps to save energy and water. The duck may not like it. But every time he takes a dip, he speeds up global warming.

Duck and shower

Switch it off!

6% of energy in Europe is used by electrical equipment left on standby. When the red light shows you are still leaking electricity! So remember to always pull the plug on equipment such as playstations, CD players and computers!

Switch it off!

Use the sun’s energy

It’s so easy to switch on the heating or tumble drier, we often forget there is a brilliant source of energy in our garden. Always dry your clothes the natural way when possible. On sunny winter days, turn down the thermostat and open the curtains. The sun’s energy will come shining in and heat the house for free!

Clothes on line in sun

These are just a few simple example of ways to take Energy Action and help save Europe’s reources for your future.

Energy for life

In Europe our way of life still depends on fossil fuels. These were created millions of years ago from the remains of prehistoric forests.

Beneath the ground, time and pressure slowly turned the trees into vast fields of oil, gas and coal. However, the world has already used up half these fuels, and in a few decades they will be gone forever.

So it is vital that Europe develops safe sources of energy that will not run out; energy from the sun, wind, water and plants.

girl with solar panel

Renewable energy is nothing new. For centuries, buildings have been designed to capture the heat of the sun. Wood has been used for heating and cooking. Wind energy was used to mill flour, and to transport goods and people around the world on large sailing ships.


The resources of renewable energy may not have changed, but the technology definitely has. Modern wind turbines have become highly efficent and now generate electricity for thousands of homes in Europe. And they don’t produce the carbon emissions that cause global warming.

boy with wind turbines

Solar energy is also becoming increasingly important. Solar panels use photovoltaics made of special types of silicon. These convert sunlight into electricity.

Solar panels on roof

Solar thermal energy is used to provide heat and hot water. The tubes above absorb the sun’s heat in a highly efficient way, and pass the heat via pipes to a water tank.

There are many other uses for solar energy. Look at our web links and photo gallery to find out more.

boy with hydro dam

Hydro power is a major source of power in many European countries, particularly Scandinavia. Dams are used to create reservoirs. Water is then accelerated down steep pipes and used to power turbines that generate electricity. Again, this resource is renewable and doesn’t cause carbon emissions.

The most diverse form of renewable energy is biomass – energy from biological matter. There are many different sources of biomass, including forestry residues, food wastes, animal wastes and energy crops.

girl with miscanthus

Just like the forces of nature that converted the prehistoric forests to oil, coal and gas, technology can be used to convert biomass to solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.

Wood, straw and energy crops, such as willow and miscanthus, can be combusted in power stations to create electricity and heat.

Manure, agricultural and food wastes can be converted into biogas. This can be used to generate heat and electricity and as a transport fuel.

Biogas train

Scientists are developing new ways to make biofuels from trees, energy plants, waste materials, straw and even algae (tiny green plants that grow in ponds and the sea). It takes time and money, but the fuels of the future could soon be used by lorries, ships and planes for long journeys. For short journeys in cities, smaller electric vehicles may be the best way to travel.

Fight climate change

6 steps to reduce your carbon footprint

Reduce your footprint and change your world >>>

Carbon dioxide is a gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. As plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, which is combined with water to create simple sugars. These are then turned into more complex compounds that form the structure of the plant. Energy for this process (photosynthesis) comes from the sun.

carbon cycle

When a plant dies, is burned or is eaten by animals, the carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. The carbon cycle helps create a stable environment for all living things, including us!

Prehistoric forests absorbed millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As the planet changed, the forests were buried under the ground, with the carbon trapped in the trees.

dinosaur with petrol pump

Over millions of years, heat and pressure turned the trees into oil, coal and gas. In the last hundred years, we have used half of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves for energy and transport – rapidly releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

orange sky

There are not enough plants on the planet to absorb all this extra carbon dioxide gas, so it escapes into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide lets sunlight through, but reflects heat back onto the surface of the earth. This is causing the planet’s temperature to slowly increase.

dead tree in desert

Global warming may result in rising sea levels, coastal erosion and floods. It may cause drought, leading to water supply problems and crop failure. It may also lead to extreme weather, such as storms and hurricanes, which cause severe damage to buildings, roads and infrastructure (communications, water and electricity supplies).

waves against house

To slow down climate change, all countries in Europe have agreed to reduce energy use to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. They will also increase use of renewable energy sources.

girl with EU map painted on face

To find out more about climate change and how you can help reduce carbon emissions, visit our transport, web links, photo gallery and video pages.

Go radical – join the transport revolution

In the last century the internal combustion engine transformed the globe. It enabled people to travel faster and further than ever before, by car, by plane, by boat, by train.

But the new found freedom of the 20th Century came at a price. As more and more people travelled more and more miles, sulphur, lead and a host of other toxins were released into the atmosphere. This posioned the environment – damaging plants, animals and people.


However, the biggest problem is carbon dioxide, a gas which is produced when fuels are combusted. Millions of tonnes of this gas are released into the atmosphere every year. The carbon dixoide forms a layer that reflects sunlight back onto the earth, causing climate change.

Scientists vary in their predictions about how bad and how fast global warming will occur. However, there is no doubt that climate change is already affecting everyone in Europe. It causes more extreme weather – storms, floods, droughts – and other environmental problems.

These problems affect crops, animals and water supplies – the fundamental things that we rely on for our survival. To help slow down climate change, we need to change our transport habits now.

Put your best foot forward!

boy with big foot

The best and easiest alternative to the car is your own two feet!

Walk to school. Cycle to the shops. You will get fitter and leaner. You will save money and prevent pollution.

Whether you are pounding the pavement or pushing the pedals, every time you leave the car at home you will help slow down global warming.

Boy on bike

Take the train!

Of course, it’s not possible to walk everywhere. What about longer journeys? Well, it is so easy to get in the car, we often forget about the bus and the train. These are often much more convenient, especially if you have to travel through a large city, where the roads are congested and parking is very expensive.

Take the train

Trains and buses are heavier than cars and have bigger engines. So they use more fuel. However, they carry far more passengers, so the amount of carbon dioxide produced per person per km is much lower.

Share your car with a friend

Sometimes, of course, the car is the only option. But, there are still ways to travel more sensibly.

How often have you driven all the way into town right behind a neighbour? Or met someone you know in the car park?

Next time you are travelling to a football match, the cinema, or a school event, check if a friend needs a lift. It’s less boring if you have someone to share the journey with you – and your families can save money.

Share your car

Discover better ways to travel in your town

Across Europe, there are many schemes that help to promote public transport. Why not contact your local council or energy agency to discover more?

If you are under eighteen, you will often find that you qualify for much cheaper fares.

Cleaner fuels for a brighter future

The world has currently used up half its supplies of fossil fuels. However, new fuels are being developed. These will help our resources of oil last longer and ensure that we have energy supplies for transport in the future.

Meanwhile manufacturers are producing innovative new cars that offer greater efficiency and cleaner motoring.

Toyota Prius

Many new cars now feature hybrid electric/petrol engines or very economical diesel engines, both of which provide excellent fuel efficiency.

hybrid car engine

The electric engine takes over in city traffic, helping to reduce pollution, and boosts the performance of the petrol engine only when required.

Biofuels – biodiesel and bioethanol – are also being increasingly used in Europe. A new generation of sustainable advanced biofuels is now being developed. These use agricultural and forestry wastes, vegetable wastes, and energy crops that can be grown on land that is not suitable for food production. New technologies may even soon be able to use algae to produce transport fuels.

Some completely electric cars are now available. These have a limited range, but are a good solution in city centres as they produce no emissions*. Hydrogen and fuel cells are another potential transport fuel. Again, lots more information is available on our web links page.

*Energy is needed to produce electricity and hydrogen. Currently this is likely to come from a fossil fuel source. However, renewable resources can also be used to produce hydrogen and electricty. New technology will help to make these fuels of the future.



Energy – let’s save it!

An animation by the European Commission.


Better light with less energy

An animation by the European Commission.


Energy action

This animation shows a few ways to help save energy. Switch to low energy light bulbs. They use one fifth of the energy of traditional bulbs. Remember to switch off your TV at the wall. Standby leaks electricity. As you will see, there are also easy ways to save energy with kettles, washing machines and windows.

But first switch off the light…


Climate change

Over millions of years, prehistoric forests grew on the earth. They absorbed carbon dioxide from the air. The trees died and heat and pressure turned them into coal, oil and gas. When we burn these fuels, carbon dioxide is rapidly released. This is changing our climate.


Energy from water

The sun heats water in the sea. The water rises and falls as rain. Dams trap the water in lakes at the top of hills. The water travels fast down long pipes and spins big turbines to make electricity.

Ground source heat pump

Heat in the ground warms tubes full of liquid (similar to car antifreeze). This warmth is used to heat vapour, which is compressed to greatly increase its temperature. The vapour is condensed and the heat is passed to radiators or hot water for washing. Electricity is used, but the efficiency of the system is 220-300 %. So much more heat is generated.


Heat and hot water from the sun

Black tubes are put on roofs. The tubes are full of special liquid (similar to car antifreeze). They trap heat from the sun. The heat is passed into water pipes and can be used for showers or washing clothes.


Electricity from the sun

This animation shows how energy from the sun can be turned into electricity. This is done by special materials called photovoltaics. These are used to make solar panels.


Heat and hot water from trees

Willow trees grow using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. After 4 years they can be dried and burned to produce heat and hot water for buildings. So you don’t have to use oil, coal or gas. Other trees, wood waste and straw can also be used for bioenergy – even in large power stations.


Sustainable Transport

Cars, lorries, buses and planes all use fossil fuels. These produce a gas called carbon dioxide.The gas collects above the earth. It traps heat (like a greenhouse) and makes the planet get hotter. Ride a bike, walk or take a bus. You will reduce greenhouse gases and help slow down global warming.


Wind Energy

This animation shows how wind energy can be used to generate electricity.The wind turns the rotor blades of the turbine. These are connected to gears that make a generator spin at high speed. The generator produces electricty that is sent to houses through pylons.


Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage CCS

For the next few years, power stations will use oil, gas and coal to make energy. But this produces the carbon dioxide gas that causes climate change. One answer is to capture the gas and store it deep underground in porous rock (rock with tiny holes in it). Then the power station only produces water, air and sometimes hydrogen gas. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel in vehicles or future power stations. CCS is a new idea that is being tested.

Advanced biofuels

Scientists are developing new ways to make biofuels from trees, energy plants, waste materials, straw and even algae (tiny green plants that grow in ponds and the sea). It takes time and money, but the fuels of the future could soon be used by lorries, ships and planes for long journeys. For short journeys in cities, smaller electric vehicles may be the best way to travel.