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8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Economics, Civics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Videos, 4 minutes, 18 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus

North America, United States


Google Docs, PDF

What Is Distributed Renewable Energy?

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  • This short animated video describes the current way communities get energy and introduces distributed renewable energy, discussing the need for a clean energy transition that moves power production away from large, profit-seeking companies to communities and individuals.
  • The video discusses the impacts of climate change on rural communities and the role farmers and communities can play in transforming the energy sector.
  • A lesson plan is linked below to expand the video into a full lesson.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource is a fun way to introduce students to the fossil fuel industry's influence in the United States and how communities can address it.
  • The video uses animated graphics to communicate the concepts in an easy-to-understand and accessible way.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Before watching the video, students should understand how the energy industry contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This resource requires access to the Internet.


  • Have students consider what role they can play in the clean energy transition.
  • This resource can be used in civics classes during lessons about lobbying and the influence of special interests in politics, and in economics classes during lessons about the interactions between individuals and communities and profit-seeking companies.
  • This other lesson can be used to help students learn more about the electric grid.
Scientist Notes
This short video discusses renewable energy. It begins with discussing where electricity comes from, and why there is such a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Followed by a brief discussion of what climate change is and what it looks like. Finally, viable renewable energy sources are discussed along with the reasons to make the switch and the reliability of the renewable energy sources. The video is entertaining and very informative, students will learn a lot about renewable energy through this well sourced video. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Social Studies
    • U.S. History: America in the World - Civics, Government, and Human Rights
      • 6.1.8.CivicsPI.3.c: Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
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