Differences between renewable and non-renewable energy

Heating Trends, last updated on November 14, 2022

Energy is a critical component of both production and consumption. There are two types of energy-producing resources: renewable and non-renewable.


Differences between renewable and non-renewable energy

People have relied on renewable energy sources to live since the dawn of time: wood for cooking and heating, wind and water for milling grain, and solar for lighting fires. People developed the technology to extract energy from ancient fossilized plant and animal remains a little more than 150 years ago. These super-abundant yet finite non-renewable energy sources (coal, oil, and natural gas) rapidly subsumed biomass, wind, solar, and water as the primary fuel sources.

Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources

Renewable energy is a resource that we can tap forever and that replenishes itself without human interference. Wind, water, the sun, and even plant matter are all examples of renewable energy sources. Wind will always blow, the sun will always shine, and water will always flow, regardless of how much of each resource we use to generate electricity.

Nonrenewable energy sources deplete as they are used up, necessitating the use of external resources to replenish them. As a result, they have a major effect on the atmosphere and lead to emissions. In fact, the processing of nonrenewable energy releases waste into the environment, including carbon dioxide and toxic gases.

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Difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources

Renewable technology captures renewable energy and converts it into usable energy. The natural kinetic energy of the wind, for example, can be used to transform a generator, which generates electricity. The wind cannot be "used up" because it will continue to blow.

Renewable energy is sustainable; however, not all of it is generated with zero environmental effects. Processing energy from biomass, for example, can necessitate the combustion of wood or pellets, resulting in gaseous particles that spread into the atmosphere and contribute to pollution.

Nonrenewable resources, as previously said, can only be used once, and we are unable to generate more to replace what we use. Nonrenewable energy is produced by burning fossil fuels, which emit a significant amount of CO2 and other harmful agents into the atmosphere; however, their generation costs are lower than those of renewable energy sources. Nuclear fuels, the other nonrenewable source, are produced by extracting uranium and then processing and refining it.

Apart from the fact that one resource is replenishable and the other is not, the key distinction between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources is in their financial costs, rate of depletion, and environmental costs. 

We would soon run out of non-renewable energy sources due to the length of time it takes to renew them. Not only that, but nonrenewable technology has a much greater effect on climate change because it releases large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is even more environmentally friendly and aims to reduce our collective carbon footprint. As a consequence, altering the way we produce energy is important. Fossil fuels still account for a significant portion of the energy supply today. However, the good news is that the environment is shifting toward renewable energy, and new innovations and opportunities are being created.