Types of energy

The energy is a fundamental concept in the science and has been very important for the evolution of humanity. Since the beginning of its existence, man has needed energy to survive.

Energy is associated with the concept of the ability to make things work and change, whether in matter, in organisms, in objects, among others.

It manifests itself in different ways and that is why it receives different classifications according to the actions and changes it can cause. Energy can be stored, created or transferred from one place to another or from one object to another in different ways.

Next we will explain the main   types of energies with their respective examples.

Kinetic energy

This energy is associated with bodies in motion. If something is not moving it is because it does not have kinetic energy . Depending on the volume and speed of the body, it will have more or less kinetic energy.

This type of energy can be transferred from one object to another when two bodies collide.


-Russian Mountain: When your wagons are at the top, the kinetic energy will be zero since they are still. Now, as soon as they begin to descend, they begin to pick up speed, which implies that the kinetic energy begins to increase.

-Cycling: When the cyclist is at his starting point without making any type of movement, he finds a kinetic energy coefficient equal to zero. Once you start pedaling and moving forward this kinetic energy begins to increase, the more speed you lift the greater this energy will be.

Electric power

The electrical power is when two points have a potential difference and connected through an electrical conductor generating such energy. It is the product of the attraction of particles that are positively and negatively charged and the movement of electrical charges called electricity.


-Electrical energy can be seen in the electronic equipment that we use today, in the means of transport, the light that we have at home, and so on.

Thermal energy

This energy is what comes from the temperature of matter. When a substance is heated, a greater vibration of the molecules occurs, which causes the thermal energy to increase.

It is the energy that is transferred from a hot body to a colder one, it manifests itself through heat. This heat transfer process can take place in three ways:

  • Radiation: heat is transmitted through infrared radiation.
  • Conduction : It is transmitted by the contact of bodies with different temperatures.
  • Convection: This is the name given to the displacement of hot particles in colder air, such as the wind.

Examples: Boil water; switch the heater on; Combustion of organic matter.

Mechanical energy

It is known as mechanical energy to the movement and the position of an object in a certain force field.

This type of energy can be classified as stored or transitory.

  • Stored : it is the energy contained within an object or substance.
  • Transitory : it is the energy in motion, that is, that which is transferred from one place to another.

Mechanical energy involves other types of energy such as kinetic and potential, since both also have a moving target. In other words, mechanical energy is the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy.


-When we swing as we gain speed we reach a certain height. In this way, when the height increases, the potential energy also increases, while the speed (kinetic energy) decreases.

Nuclear energy

This energy is the result of nuclear reactions and changes in atomic nuclei . It is stored in the nucleus of the atom.

The nuclear energy can be released through the fission (what is known as breakage) or the fusion of atoms.

Example: Nuclear fission; Nuclear decay.

Solar energy

It is the energy that comes from the light and heat emitted by the sun . The solar energy is nuclear fission of hydrogen which is then converted into radiant energy.

It travels through space with electromagnetic waves of the UV type (ultraviolet), infrared rays and visible light. It is such a fundamental energy that life on earth depends on it.

Because solar energy is an inexhaustible source, it is considered renewable energy . Others derive from it, such as: wind energy, hydraulic energy, energy from biomass (the result of plant photosynthesis)


-Installations of photovoltaic panels: which generate electrical energy through sunlight. It is used in homes, mountain shelters, among others.

-Solar cars: they transform the sun’s energy into electricity that powers an electric motor.

Wind power

It is the energy obtained from the wind , that is, kinetic energy is generated through air currents and it is used for many human activities.

This energy has been used since ancient times to move ships that were powered by sails or mill machines (grind grains). At present it is used mainly to produce electrical energy through self-generators.


-As we mentioned, we can find the windmills which are used to grind grains. Another example that we can find are sailboats, their sails capture wind energy and use it to move.

hydraulic energy

It is obtained thanks to the kinetic energy and the potential energy obtained from water currents and tides.

It is a renewable energy , that is to say that thanks to the water cycle it will not be depleted by its use. It has a high performance since it is not necessary a lot of space to obtain large amounts of energy.


-Water mills, where the water moves the blades of the wheel that is submerged. This movement causes circular stones called grinding wheels to move, which will press the grain and produce the flour.

Chemical energy

Chemical energy is generated when atoms come together It depends on the atomic structure and the attractive force that occurs in the bonds of the molecules. This type of energy can be released through chemical reaction and is produced by the transformation of different chemical substances that food or certain elements contain.


-Burn wood: as the wood burns it releases heat and light that produces the chemical energy accumulated in the cellulose molecules.

-Gasoline: oil and gas are some of the most important forms of chemical energy used by humanity.

Potential energy

This is the name given to the ability of bodies to do work. This will depend on their configuration and positioning in a system of bodies that exert forces on each other.

This energy is not obtained due to the displacement of bodies, but refers to the ability of different bodies that are immobilized to create force.

There are different types of potential energy :

  • Gravitational energy : refers to the energy that is stored in an object as a result of its vertical position or the height at which they are.
  • Elastic potential energy : it relates the initial condition of an object with its ability to stretch, compress or twist. The amount of energy that will be stored in these materials will depend on the traction force or what it is subjected to, that is, the more they stretch, the greater their potential energy will be.
  • Electrostatic potential energy: this energy is produced between objects that attract or repel each other. In the case of objects that attract each other, the energy is greater the further they are, whereas for objects that repel each other, the energy is greater the closer they are.


-Wrecking ball: This energy is generated by the suspension of the ball in the crane.

-Swing: Its gravitational potential energy is caused because it is suspended on a support. When performing the movement, it stops for a few milliseconds, this helps to charge it with energy.

-Trampoline: It is a type of elastic energy that is produced when an object impacts and bounces against it.

-Strained bow with an arrow.

Sound energy

This type of energy, also called acoustic, is what transmits sound waves through vibrations in physical media such as water, air and solid materials.

Examples: -Vibrations that are generated inside a box television.

-Microphones, they transform acoustic energy into electrical energy.

-Ultrasound by Doppler effect.

Electromagnetic energy

This energy is related to the presence of an electromagnetic field , which is generated by the movement of electric and magnetic particles simultaneously. This concept is known as electromagnetic waves, which travel through space and travel at the speed of light.


-The sun: it can manifest itself as light, infrared radiation and radio waves.

-Microwaves: can be used to transmit information through space, as well as to heat food. Short microwaves are also often used in Doppler radars to predict weather forecasts.

Radiant energy

This is the name given to the energy that electromagnetic waves have , such as UV rays, infrared rays, radio waves, among others. Their fundamental characteristic is that they can be propagated in a vacuum without the need for a material support.

These waves travel in space at the speed of light, 300,000 km / s.

Examples: -Sun beds: they cause tanning through the ultraviolet rays they emit.


-Radio waves

Geothermal energy

This type of energy is related to the heat of the earth, which is a type of source that is found under the surface. It is considered to be a renewable type of energy and is obtained from the heat that is transmitted from the interior of the earth to a hot rock body or by conduction and convection.

As we know, the interior of the earth is heated and the deeper it is, the higher its temperature. In the deep layers we find the phreatic layers in which the water heats up and then when it rises they produce manifestations on the surface.

Examples: Geysers; Thermal waters; Geothermal wells

Iceland is one of the countries that makes the most of geothermal energy.

Metabolic energy

The set of physical-chemical processes and the reactions that take place inside the cell are known as metabolic energy . These processes allow cells to grow, reproduce, respond to stimuli, and so on.

Through metabolism, cells can obtain the energy they need and synthesize compounds.


-Synthesis of carbohydrates: Our body through saliva, gastric acids and certain enzymes can obtain glucose from carbohydrate molecules.

-Photosynthesis: this metabolic process is carried out by plants and through it the chloroplasts transform organic matter into inorganic matter thanks to sunlight.

Magnetic energy

This energy is that developed by the earth and natural magnets. Through it, some objects produce attractive or repulsive forces in other materials.

Although this force affects almost all materials to some extent, its effects mainly impact certain metals such as nickel, iron, cobalt.

This energy is reflected in magnetic fields, which generate attractive or repulsive forces depending on the magnetic polarity of the participating elements. From this comes the concept that we often name: opposite poles attract, like poles repel.


-Magnet attracted to iron

-Compasses: its metallic needle aligns itself with the earth’s magnetic field to always point north.

-Trains: they exist in many countries of the first world. These trains are able to stay in the air thanks to the push of electro magnets at their base.

Binding energy

This type of binding energy in chemistry is produced by the measure of bonding between two atoms. It is calculated by the heat it takes to break a mole of molecules into their individual atoms. The higher the binding energy, the closer and stronger the bonding of the atoms.

Example: In an HOH water molecule, an energy of 460 kj / mol is required to break the bond between oxygen and the two hydrogen atoms in one mole of water.

Bond dissociation energy

This type of energy is used in chemistry to cause the total energy change of the system when a covalent bond is broken by hemolysis, that is, when the separation of the electron atoms occurs equally.

Each of the bonds in a molecule has its own dissociation energy and it will depend on the number of bonds it has, the amount of energy it will need to break.

Seawater energy

This energy is the one obtained from taking advantage of the tides of the oceans, that is, the difference in the average height of the seas according to the relative position of the earth and the moon.

The way to generate this energy is through the use of alternators that produce electrical energy . These alternators are connected to a plant on the ground that is responsible for distributing energy to the community and to industries.

It is considered a clean and renewable energy, since it does not consume gases or fossil elements.


-Tidal Lagoon tidal plant, located in London. Its construction began in 2013 and generates about 240 kW of energy.

-La Rance tidal plant, located in France. It was inaugurated in 1996 and produces energy for 225,000 inhabitants.

Dark energy

Dark energy is known as the energy found in space , it represents 70% of the components of the universe.

This energy is one of the greatest mysteries that exist. All the matter found in the universe is held together and trapped by gravity, which attracts it and holds it together.

A kind of pressure is produced from space that tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

Its name was created by the cosmologist Michael Turner in 1998 to give a name to the cosmological constant that had been proposed by Albert Einstein at the beginning of the 20th century.

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