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Types of Energy

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Energy is the ability to work. Energy makes things move. Energy makes living things grow. Energy also makes machines work. Energy can take a wide variety of forms – light energy, electrical energy, heat energy, sound energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy, nuclear or atomic energy and so on. All these forms of energy can be described as either potential energy or kinetic energy.

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Potential Energy-

It is the stored energy that is ready to use. For example, the chemical energy of food is stored energy. When we eat, we use this potential energy to do various activities or to maintain body temperature. This means that the chemical energy of food is being converted into mechanical energy and heat energy. All objects have potential energy if they are placed in a certain position. For example, if an arrow is left on the ground, it has no energy. However, if the same arrow is placed in a bow with the string pulled back, the arrow has potential energy and can go far and even hurt someone.


A ball held at a height will also have potential energy. The higher and bigger in mass, the greater would be its potential energy!

Kinetic Energy-

All moving objects have kinetic energy. There is an energy associated with moving objects as they are capable of doing some kind of work or causing a change. For example, a moving person, a speeding car, or a moving ball can, say, topple other things or move them! When water or wind is in motion, it has kinetic energy. People have successfully used this water and wind energy to produce electricity, which is used to run our factories, our machines, and all electrical appliances.

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1. Light Energy –

Light is the only form of energy that is visible to us. It is a form of kinetic energy wherein radiation travels in waves. It is made up of tiny particles known as photons, which are tiny packets of energy. It is given off by stars, light bulbs, and even hot objects! Light energy from the sun (solar energy) is used by plants to prepare their food; the sun also gives us natural light. It is also used to generate electricity.

2. Heat Energy-

Also known as thermal energy, it is produced from heated up substances. We know that matter is made up of atoms that move within it. When the substance is heated, the increase in temperature causes these particles to move faster and release energy in the form of heat. For example, the warmth of the sun, baking a cake in the oven and the warmth coming out of heaters are examples of thermal energy.

3. Electrical Energy-

it is caused by moving electrical charges. These charged particles are known as electrons.  Electricity is a type of energy that comes from electrical energy. It can be generated from solar energy, wind energy, nuclear energy, and from water. Lightning, batteries, generators are examples of electrical energy.

4. Sound Energy-

Sound energy is produced when a force causes an object or substance to vibrate. Sound energy travels in the form of waves and can be transmitted by solids, liquids, or gases. It cannot travel in a vacuum as there are no atoms to carry it. Vibrations cause sound energy. For example, when we talk, sing, clap our hands, tap our foot, or play a musical instrument.

5. Chemical Energy–

The energy stored in substances by virtue of their composition – atoms, and molecules is known as chemical energy. This energy is released in other forms after a chemical reaction. For example, the energy stored in food is chemical energy, which is converted into new compounds and into heat energy after digestion in our body. Chemical energy in wood is converted into heat and light energy upon burning. Other examples include biomass, coal, and chemical batteries.

6. Mechanical Energy –

The energy of an object due to its motion or position is called mechanical energy. For example, a moving car or a hammer hitting a nail has mechanical energy. When we switch on a fan, electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy.

7. Nuclear Energy –

Also known as atomic energy, this energy is released in high quantities when atoms or nuclei of various elements react. Nuclear energy is used for electricity generation, medicine, industry, agriculture etc.

Classification based on sources

Renewable energy –

The energy obtained from renewable sources like sunlight, wind, water, tides, waves, and geothermal heat is known as renewable energy. These sources are naturally replenished and hence, recommended.

Non-renewable energy –

The energy obtained from non-renewable sources cannot be easily readily replaced by natural means. Examples include fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed from one form to another. For example, when you rub your hands to get warmth, kinetic energy is converted to thermal energy; windmills convert kinetic energy into electrical energy, burning of wood changes chemical energy into heat and light energy. Sun is the source of almost all energy on earth.

Check Point

  1. Energy can neither be ________ nor _________.
  2. When we burn a candle, chemical energy is converted into _______ and _______ energy.
  3. Name any two renewable sources of energy.
  4. When you drop a ball from a height, potential energy is converted into ________.
  5. A pizza or a burger has _________ energy stored in it!

Answer Key

  1. Created, destroyed
  2. Heat and light
  3. Wind/ Water/ Solar/ Geothermal/ Tidal (any two)
  4. Kinetic energy
  5. Chemical

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