For your geography GCSE, you need to study how energy is generated and the effects of energy generation on people and the environment. It is also required that you understand the ways in which energy resources are managed in a sustainable way by considering how energy is used and where it is wasted. The exact requirements depend on the syllabus that you are following.
The need for energy is increasing every day due to population growth along with increased wealth, urbanisation and technological advances in emerging economies. Cities develop by consuming energy and resources from other environments. National and local governments are increasingly aware that sustainability is essential and are taking various steps to achieve this. One of the key aspects is energy generation. Avoiding energy wastage and finding new ways of obtaining the energy required are the two ways that a city, town or village can contribute to this global issue.
Currently, energy is generated using mostly fossil fuels - diesel and petrol provides the bulk of the energy for transport. For cooking, in the UK, natural gas (from the North Sea) and electricity are the key sources of energy. The electricity flowing through the National Grid to homes and businesses is generated from coal, oil and gas with some nuclear and a small amount from sustainable sources. In Scotland, some electricity is generated sustainably through hydro-electric schemes based in the highlands where rainfall is high and population density is low.
At some point in the future, fossil fuel stocks will be exhausted which means that humans will need to find alternative sources of energy to replace them or face a world with little or no electricity. These alternatives are nuclear power plus a number of sustainable energy generation methods referred to as renewable energies.
Nuclear power generation is not sustainable, however, it is believed that it will take longer to exhaust the raw materials than fossil fuels and a small amount of fuel can generate much larger amounts of electricity than other methods. Renewable energies include wind power, solar power and wave power. Energy can also be generated from biological sources (biofuels) but this can create problems in LEDCs where land that was used to grow crops to feed local populations are used to grow cash crops for making biofuels.