The Best Renewable Energy Documentaries, TED Talks and Videos (updated for 2022)

We’ve collected some of the best renewable energy documentaries on Netflix, YouTube, and hand-picked videos from pre-eminent thought leaders and video podcasters. We've also picked the best TED Talks covering energy policy, renewable energy jobs and recruitment, industry reports, analysis, and data science, and technologies like wind, solar, storage and alternative clean energies.

Updated March 2022.

We’ll keep this list updated so that it’s a up-to-date source for renewable energy and sustainability documentaries and videos. If you think we might have missed some essential sources, please let us know.

Renewable Energy, Climate Change & Sustainability Documentaries

We’ve handpicked some interesting, thought-provoking, and downright entertaining documentaries for you on the subjects of sustainability, climate change and renewable energy. They range from big-budget streaming platform productions to smaller, but just as interesting, independent documentaries.

 

New additions

Kiss the Ground

A cinematic feature-length documentary featuring Woody Harrelson that explores the regenerative farming systems being pioneered by a small crop of US agriculturalists. While it’s uplifting to hear about these methods, which are better for the planet and more economically viable than the intensive methods used more widely, it’s Woody’s narration that really engages here. Watch on Netflix.

The Green Planet

First aired in January 2022, the evergreen David Attenborough takes us on a journey through the plant world, using extraordinary time-lapse photography to capture moments never before witnessed. From the basics of evolution and photosynthesis to the dire realities of the climate crisis, this is an immersive, awe-inspiring look at Planet Earth from the perspective of plants: a must-see masterpiece of climate-conscious filmmaking. Watch on BBC iPlayer.

2040

The award-winning director Damon Gameau investigates what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embrace the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shift them rapidly into the mainstream. Easier said than done, but this “what if” look at the future is fascinating. Watch on Amazon Prime.
 

Breaking Boundaries: the Science of our Planet

What we do between now and 2030 will be decisive for humanity on Earth. This Netflix documentary looks at the systems that determine the state of the planet, and examines how changing climates have manipulated them, causing wildfires and other adverse weather events. Ultimately, the future is still in our hands – and after watching this, you may never look at the world in the same way again. Watch on Netflix.

The Power Reset

In Bavaria, the small town of Wunsiedel is creating a clean energy blueprint for the world to follow. Its distributed energy system is powered solely by renewables, including wind, solar, biomass and green hydrogen, and uses digital technology to optimise production and distribution. This documentary by Siemens looks at how the town is reinventing itself and using cutting-edge smart infrastructure to make the best use of its green technology. Watch now on Amazon Prime Video.

 

Harnessing The Sun And Wind: Inside Our Renewable Energy Future

Singapore is a hotbed of renewables development in the Asian market, and its firms are pushing the boundaries of technology across the region. This documentary by Singapore’s CNA Insider looks at how the city state has an outsize influence in the Asian market, visits the world’s largest near-shore floating solar farm, and features the development of Vietnam’s first foreign-owned wind farms. An interesting watch for anyone involved in renewables in Asia. Watch on YouTube.

Down to Earth with Zac Efron

Tackling serious topics with an inspiring, upbeat tone, in this Netflix series Hollywood star Zac Efron travels the world investigating renewables, sustainability and habitat issues. It’s not the most hard-hitting watch, but Efron’s likeable persona, endless curiosity and genuine enthusiasm makes these issues accessible for young and old alike. A succession of star names also brings a new perspective on sustainability stories that you might not have heard before. Watch on Netflix.

Previously featured…

Brave Blue World

This is the first honest and hopeful documentary that will paint an optimistic picture of how humanity is adopting new technologies and innovations to re-think how we manage water. Narrated by Liam Neeson, featuring Matt Damon and Jaden Smith. Watch the trailer.

Our Planet

This documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough share the wonder of the extraordinary place we call home. Utilizing the latest technology Our Planet was filmed entirely in Ultra High Definition in over 50 countries. From exotic jungles to the deepest seas, open your eyes to the connections we all share. Watch now on Netflix.

A Life on Our Planet

Probably one of the hardest hitting documentaries on the climate disaster we’ve seen. This is a must-watch.  Sir David Attenborough highlights the defining moments of his lifetime and the devastating changes he has seen. Watch now on Netflix.

Minimalism

This sustainability documentary explores consumerism and introduces minimalism as an ideology. Showing people from all walks of life – families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, etc. – who strive to live a more meaningful life with less stuff. Find out more.

Before the flood

A National Geographic Documentary featuring Leonardo DiCaprio’s journey around the globe witnessing climate change firsthand and meeting people who are taking action against it. Find out more.

The 4th Revolution: Energy Autonomy

A vision of a world powered by 100% renewable energy. This documentary shows how this energy transition would decentralise power and distribute capital more equally.
Find out more.

Tomorrow

The filmmakers travelled around the world to meet local communities and people that are working on creative solutions to environmental and social challenges. This documentary showcases innovative ideas, rethink agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.  Find out more.

Catching the Sun

This documentary attempts to debunk the ideas suggesting clean energy isn’t profitable. Highlighting how the economy can benefit by looking at the US and China battle to win the renewable energy race through jobs and technology. Find out more.

Normal is Over

A view of the countless ways humans have put our planet in peril. Tackling issues such as control of our food production, climate change, species extinction and depletion of critical natural resources. Find out more.

An Inconvenient Truth

A classic documentary following Al Gore on the lecture circuit, campaigning to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and the call for immediate action to stop its destructive effects on the environment. Watch the trailer.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Ten years after his first documentary, environmental activist and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore documents where we are in the climate change fight. Gore reviews the state of our planet by detailing some of the real and present threats we were warned about in his 2006 award-winning film. Watch the trailer.

Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

This documentary tells the story of clean energy, beginning with the innovations and moving on to installation. It also tells the personal stories of people whose lives have changed because of the clean energy economy. Watch the trailer.

 

Renewable Energy TED Talks

TED and TEDx talks are a great source of original insight into all kinds of topics big and small. Here are some of the best on renewable energy, sustainability and the environment. 

New additions

Everybody can be a sustainability leader – Annick Schmeddes

Everyone can create a more sustainable lifestyle without making drastic changes. Here, Annick Schmeddes shows us how to become a sustainability leader by eschewing enormous effort and maximising our existing talents.

Smart Green World? Making digitalisation work for sustainability

The digital revolution is currently changing the daily lives of billions of people worldwide and is disrupting much of the global economy – including the energy industry. In this talk, Tilmann Santarius shows how the digital revolution transforms consumption patterns, mobility habits and industry structures – and analyses to what extent this generates new opportunities and creates new challenges.

How much land does it take to power the world?

Inspired by Bill Gates’ book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, this illuminating Ted-Ed video explores the sustainability of different power sources.

The innovations we need to avoid a climate disaster – Bill Gates

Topic: Introducing the concept of the “green premium,” Microsoft founder Bill Gates identifies the breakthroughs and investments we need to reduce the cost of clean tech, decarbonise the economy and create a pathway to a clean and prosperous future for all.

 

How to bring affordable, sustainable electricity to Africa – Rose M. Mutiso

Topic: Energy poverty, or the lack of access to electricity and other basic energy services, affects nearly two-thirds of Sub-Saharan Africa. In a bold talk, Mutiso discusses how a balanced mix of solutions like solar, wind farms, geothermal power and modern grids could create a high-energy future for Africa.

 

100% renewable energy: you can do it – Gordian Raacke

Topic: This talk is a wonderful global perspective on climate change and the effective actions we can take as individuals to collectively save the planet.

 

Investing in renewable energy in developing countries – Heidi Finskas

Topic: Heidi Finskas shares KLP’s positive experience with combining private and public investments, so-called blended finance, in renewable energy projects in developing countries. By partnering up, we can turn billions to trillions and make the sustainable development goals a reality.

 

Previously featured…

Accelerating The Shift To Clean Energy – Bill Nussey

Looks at Building local, consumer-driven electricity markets, such as the Brooklyn Microgrid, with renewable energy resources. (2017). Watch on YouTube.

Batteries Not Included – Marek Kubik

Topic: How energy storage technologies are transforming our approach to electricity generation with renewables. (2018). Watch on YouTube.

Ground Zero For Global Energy Transition – Justin Locke

Examines the leadership role that small islands are taking in developing sustainable energy solutions.  Watch on YouTube.

A Printable, Flexible, Organic Solar Cell – Hannah Bürckstümmer

Looks at innovative, efficient, flexible organic solar cells that can be printed in any shape to allow the facades of buildings to capture solar from every exposed surface. Watch on YouTube

The Thrilling Potential For Off-Grid Solar Energy – Amar Inamdar

Topic: How the factors of distributed generation – lower costs, infrastructure and decentralisation- are revolutionising the energy market to the benefit of the environment. Watch on YouTube.

 

Renewable Energy Videos from YouTube

Energías Renovables – Cedecom

A short documentary in Spanish about the advantages and the future of renewables. Taking a pioneering autonomous community in Andalusia as an example, it covers the research involved in finding new, clean ways of generating energy.

More Money Is Flowing Into Green Energy Than Ever Before. Here’s Why – Wall Street Journal

Investors have been pouring more money than ever into renewable energies such as solar and wind. The WSJ looks at how the pandemic, lower energy costs and global politics have driven the rally – and whether it can last.

 

Previously featured…

Disruptors: Smart Power – BBC News

The push towards renewable energy and the quest for greater efficiency mean that we need to find more ways of storing energy. Part of the BBC Disruptors series.

Hungry for more green content? Check out our selection of the best renewables and sustainability podcasts!

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