Traditional energy sources, such as gas, oil, and coal, are some of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases. Switching to sustainable energy sources is therefore one of the most effective ways of slowing climate change. CEH researches these alternative technologies, highlighting their potential and impacts. 


Hydropower is generated by the force of falling water. Installing hydropower sites over dams and waterfalls can generate efficient, renewable energy. There are, however, some concerns. They can impact ecosystems downstream, the sites themselves emit greenhouse gases, and they can negatively affect fish populations. 

CEH related work:

  • Produced tools to assess hydropower potential in the UK, Europe and the Himalayan regions of Nepal and India
  • Supporting development of environmental flow allocations in Tanzania and China
  • Coordinating guidelines on environmental flow releases from reservoirs as the UK contribution to the World Commision on Dams
  • Undertaking assessments for the Department for International Development. We researched globally relevant water issues to support its policy on dams and water storage



Bioenergy is energy made from materials derived from biological sources. The UK Bioenergy Strategy encourages growth of the bioenergy sector, making further research a priority.  

CEH related work:

  • How much carbon does the soil hold and what is its rate of turnover?
  • What are the short-term and long-term rates of the emissions of greenhouse gases? 
  • How much water do bioenergy crops lose, and how does this affect water resources?
  • How does bioenergy affect biodiversity, both in the crop itself and the surrounding landscape?
  • How do they pollute the atmosphere, and how do these affect atmospheric chemistry and human health?


Offshore wind energy

Offshore wind energy refers to the electricity generated by windfarms in bodies of water. They are much more efficient than land-based wind farms as winds are much stronger off the coasts. They do however pose a threat to marine birds, both through direct collisions and indirect effects like displacement from foraging habitats. 

CEH related work:

  • Isle of May Long-Term Study - CEH has been commissioned to assess how much seabirds use marine environments that are being considered for development.