Renewable vs Non Renewable Energy
The demand for energy has sky rocketed during the past few decades, and it has led to an expected energy crisis in the future which currently is the biggest problem in the world. This has led to a never ending search for alternate energy sources as the current energy sources are depleting at an exponential pace and would soon not be sufficient to meet the future energy demands. When referring to “future” in this case, the focus is the next 50 years or so, which means it highlights the very near future actually.
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The current contribution of renewable energy towards the world’s final energy consumption is about 16% and is growing rapidly. At present, the main energy sources we depend on are non-renewable. Scientists and technologists realizing the gravity of the future energy crisis have been looking out for available alternate energy sources that could produce electricity and other form of energy needed to boost the industrial world and new technological era. As a result of this, many renewable energy sources have been put to the test and tried out to see their feasibility in practical usage.
The term “renewable” means that these sources are replenished continuously and would never run out on a human time scale. This gives us the advantage of making use of these sources in a sustainable manner and hence renewable energy sources are also termed as “sustainable sources”. Sunlight and wind are two such common renewable energy sources used today. Energy from sunlight can be stored in cells called solar cells, which comes in the form of panels made up of semiconductor material that knocks off electrons upon the absorption of sunlight, making them move freely and creating an internal current which can be drawn out as electricity. Solar powered calculators are commonly used, and many houses use solar panels as they store energy during daytime and can be used up for electricity in the night. Wind farms are maintained in some countries, to harness its energy. Here, the kinetic energy of the wind is used to rotate turbines, and energy is generated. Similarly, hydropower can also be used.
Hydropower comes in many forms; rain, tides and even waves are used. Since water is about 800 times denser than air, even a slow flowing stream of water or a moderate sea swell could produce larger amounts of energy, comparatively. Furthermore, biomass and geothermal heat (heat trapped beneath the surface of the earth) are also considered as renewable energy sources. Energy obtained from renewable sources are often called “clean energy” as it has less environmental impact. In fact, the use of renewable energy comes from ancient days, when people used biomass to light a fire, long before electricity was invented.
More on Non Renewable Energy
The final energy consumption in today’s world is mainly covered by energy obtained through non-renewable sources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas. These are collectively called “fossil fuels”. These sources generally will not replenish during our lifetime, or in many, many lifetimes to come rather, which makes them run out with timely usage. That is even though these sources are being regenerated it takes millions of years to form. Hence the term ’non-renewable’. Currently the fossil fuels we extract are a result of formation of carbon material from dead animals and plants which got buried under sea beds and rocks several hundred million years ago. These were converted into fossils overtime due to high pressure and heat they were subjected to underground.
Since the invention of the internal combustion engine in the 17th century, the demand for petroleum and other fossil fuels rose by the day as many stations and industrial houses were based on the technology of the internal combustion engine. The dependability on fossil fuels is relatively higher, and it is easier and cheaper to extract when compared to other alternate energy sources. Therefore, for several centuries, fossils have been able to provide a constant stream of energy for our daily needs. However, due to the exploitation of these resources they will run out faster than we think.
What is the difference between Renewable Energy and Non-renewable Energy?
• Renewable energy sources are constantly replenished during our lifetime whereas, non-renewable energy sources takes millions of years to form, which means they will not replenish on a human time scale and will soon run out.
• Renewable energy sources lead to sustainable energy production whereas non-renewable energy does not.
• The extraction and production of energy from renewable energy sources are expensive and difficult when compared to fossil fuel extraction.
• The burning of fossil fuels cause environmental damage as it releases carbon dioxide in large scale and disrupts the climatic balance on earth often causing global warming, but renewable energy is generally clean and environmentally safe.
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