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Renewable Energy is Way too Expensive, Right?

Katharine Hayhoe, Global Weirding, Public Broadcasting Service

This video explores the myth that developing or emerging countries/cities (Africa, Mexico, Dubai, Peru) must be dependent on coal, oil or gas because of their poor economies and not on clean, renewable energy sources because of the expense. Innovative clean energy storage techniques and base load power is discussed.

Video length is 6:28 mins

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This video could be watched as a whole group or in a flipped classroom setting. Could be utilized as either an introductory anticipatory set for further research conducted by the students and/or to hold a debate surrounding the "moral obligation" (as stated in video) for and against renewable and non-renewable energy sources and storage techniques.
  • Overall, this is a great video introduction of the argument for why developing countries may want to consider using renewable energy sources to jumpstart their growth as opposed to using fossil fuels that many of the existing developed countries have used to grow their economies.
  • This video brings up moral obligations and climate justice which the students will find engaging for group discussions. It also hints at other cultural issues and colonialism (such as, why would Africa follow the North American model for energy?).
  • This video is tailored well for addressing misinformation and is hopeful!

About the Content

  • This video primarily focuses on the argument that developing countries (such as countries located in Latin America or Africa) should not be expected to use the same fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) as developed countries, especially in countries that have minimal fossil fuel resources locally available.
  • This video also attempts to address the argument that clean, renewable energy is just too expensive compared to non-renewable energy sources. Video also addresses important misconceptions such as the cost of different types of energy sources as well as issues of flying birds and wind turbines.
  • The video also focuses on new, clean energy solutions and storage.
  • Statistical data is provided in narration but not sourced. These statistics can be fact-checked. For example, in question 7 of the Energy Literacy Quiz the statistics of how many birds are killed by wind turbines is discussed. Here are some other sources: Energy storage 1, Energy Storage 2, and Species extinction.
  • Percentages of fossil energy reserves in various countries is done well.
  • The costs of 'pay as you go' solar energy versus fossil fuel costs in Africa is presented in an easily understood animation.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Good information, great visuals. Age appropriate. Presents a lot of material in a very succinct and accessible format. A few statistics may be out of date. Namely, the deaths from fossil fuels are a little controversial. Additionally, the cost numbers for solar may come down a bit, but generally the video gives approximate numbers which are accurate. The information is from PBS but I didn't see any other links for the source statistics.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students will see how people in developing and/or emerging economies are finding innovative clean energy storage techniques to decrease their reliance on expensive oil, coal and gas from other countries. They also will see how these techniques could be and are being used in some U.S. states.
  • Since it appears to assume some basic knowledge of scientific terminology, using the video as an introductory anticipatory set would not be recommended for younger grade-levels; otherwise this is a great introductory tool that can be used to drill down into the specific issues named in this video.
  • Since countries other than the United States are featured like, Africa, Mexico, and Peru as well as the city of Dubai, there may be an appeal to an ethnically diverse classroom.
  • Students will need some background knowledge on fossil fuels and renewable energy sources as well as basic knowledge on energy units (ex. kilowatt per hour).
  • No teacher or student instructional support provided. Questioning strategies and sense-making discussions needed.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Video has a written transcript/closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Entered the Collection: April 2021 Last Reviewed: November 2020

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