Renewable and non-renewable resources are sources of energy that human society uses to function on a daily basis. The difference between these two types of resources is that renewable resources can replenish themselves naturally while non-renewable resources cannot. This means that non-renewable resources are limited and cannot be used sustainably.
Non-renewable energy sources include coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear power. When these resources are depleted, they cannot be replaced, which is a major problem for humanity as we currently rely on them to meet most of our energy needs.
What are Non-Renewable Resources?
Non-renewable resources are natural substance that is not replenished as quickly as it is consumed. It’s a finite resource.
Examples of non-renewable resources are crude oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium. These are all resources that are processed into commercially viable products. Humans are constantly drawing from reserves of these substances, while new stocks take eons to form.
Renewable resources are the opposite: their supply complements itself naturally or can be sustainable. Sunlight used in solar energy and wind used to power wind turbines is self-renewing. Wood reserves can be preserved through replanting.
There are four main types of non-renewable resources: oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Oil, natural gas, and coal are collectively referred to as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels were formed within the earth from dead plants and animals over millions of years, hence the name “fossil” fuels.
They are found in underground layers of rock and sediment. Pressure and heat worked together to convert the plant and animal remains into crude oil (also known as petroleum), coal, and natural gas.
The plants and animals that became fossil fuels lived around 300 to 360 million years ago during a period called the Carboniferous Period. The energy in the plant and animal remains originally came from the sun; Through the process of photosynthesis, solar energy is stored in plant tissues, which animals then use and supply the energy to their own bodies. When fossil fuels are burned, this trapped energy is released.
What is Non-renewable Energy?
Non-renewable energy refers to energy sources that cannot be easily replenished or regenerated on a human timescale. These energy sources are finite and are extracted from the earth, such as fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and nuclear energy. Non-renewable energy sources are used to generate electricity and power various forms of transportation, including cars, trucks, and airplanes.
Fossil fuels are formed from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, and they are considered non-renewable because they take a very long time to form and cannot be easily replaced once they are used up. Oil, natural gas, and coal are all fossil fuels that are used as sources of energy. They are extracted from the ground and processed for use in various applications, including the production of electricity, heat, and transportation fuel.
Nuclear energy is another form of non-renewable energy that is produced by the splitting of atoms in a process called nuclear fission. Nuclear energy is a relatively clean form of energy, as it produces relatively low levels of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels. However, it also has some drawbacks, including the risk of radiation leaks and the need for long-term storage of nuclear waste.
Overall, non-renewable energy sources have played a significant role in powering human societies and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, as these energy sources become increasingly scarce and their extraction and use become more environmentally damaging, there is a growing focus on the development and use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.
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Let’s first have a look at the nonrenewable resources list so that we know what they are before we delve a little deeper into them individually.
10 Examples of Non-Renewable Resources
Here is a list of 10 examples of non-renewable energy resources available out there in the world.
- Fossil fuels
- Crude Oil
- Natural Gas
- Tar Sand
- Ground Water
Now let’s have a look at each of these examples of nonrenewable energy in a little more detail.
1. Fossil fuels
Why are fossil fuels considered non-renewable resources? Fossil fuels are the energy derived from organic material trapped between the Earth’s layers of sediment. This organic matter has existed for millions of years.
As a result, over time they are compressed and decomposed to give life to fossil fuel deposits. These deposits are easily combustible. As a result, it is an excellent source of energy to consider.
However, it is quite difficult to extract fossil fuels. In fact, they are obtained from mining or drilling.
MORE: What are Fossil Fuels?
2. Crude oil
Is crude oil a renewable resource? Crude oil can be considered a non-renewable energy source. Crude oil is a liquid fossil fuel used primarily to make gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles and to make plastics. It occurs in the rock beneath the surface of the earth and is pumped out through wells.
Pumps are installed to suck out the liquid. The liquid is then refined and used to make many different products.
- Crude oil is a versatile fuel used to make things like plastics, artificial food flavors, heating oil, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and propane.
- The top three oil-producing countries are the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
Petroleum deposits that begin to form underground are known as oil sands, bitumen, or bituminous sands. Bitumen is too thick to be pumped under natural conditions. Scientists refer to it as cold molasses. Using special machinery, much of it is mined in Alberta, Canada, and serves as an important source of energy for Canadians and people worldwide.
Is coal renewable or one of the nonrenewable energy sources? Coal can be considered one of the most prominent non-renewable sources of energy available out there in the world. It is created through the compression of organic matter.
Coal is a solid fossil fuel that is used for heating homes and generating power plants. It is found in fossilized swamps that have been buried beneath layers of sediment. Since coal is solid, it cannot be extracted in the same manner as crude oil or natural gas; it must be dug up from the ground.
China is the biggest coal supplier to the world. In fact, they have been working as the biggest coal supplier for three consecutive decades.
Nuclear energy comes from radioactive elements, mainly uranium, which is extracted from mined ore and then refined into fuel.
Uranium is a naturally occurring element found within the Earth’s core. Most uranium deposits occur in small quantities, which miners gather, refine and purify. Once gathered, the uranium is brought together and compounded into rods. The rods are then submerged in tanks of water.
When it reaches critical mass, uranium begins to break down and release energy, which heats the water it is immersed in. The breaking down is known as fission. The heated water then creates pressure. This pressure drives the turbines that generate electricity in nuclear power plants.
More Examples of Non-Renewable Resources
5. Natural gas
Is natural gas renewable or nonrenewable? Natural gas is another nonrenewable source of energy that is created within the earth’s crust. It is quite similar to crude oil. Natural gas is also pumped out through drilling methods.
Natural gas is widely used for cooking and for heating homes. It consists mostly of methane and is found near oil deposits below Earth’s surface. Natural gas can be pumped out through the same wells used for extracting crude oil.
Ethane and methane can be considered the most popular forms of natural gas available out there. Russia, Iran, and Qatar are the countries with the largest recorded natural gas reserves.
6. Tar sand
Tar sand is coming out from the sedimentary rocks. Even though this is a non-renewable source of energy, it is available in plentiful. As per the current calculations, tar sand supply is available to cater to the requirements that would arise for the next 15 years.
However, you should also keep in mind that extracting tar sand is quite a labor-intensive process.
Is metal a renewable or nonrenewable resource? Steel can also be considered one of the most durable forms of renewable energy sources available out there to consider. Steel is made out of the elements that are extracted from iron cores. However, the supply of iron is limited and it makes steel a non-renewable source of energy available out there in the world.
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Phosphate is a natural source of energy available out there to consider. However, phosphate is also being produced in small quantities. Therefore, you can go ahead and add that to the list of non-renewable sources of energy.
Most people believe that aluminum is not a source of energy, but it is not. Aluminum’s widely used out there in the world. It plays a major role in the construction industry.
For example, aluminum is widely used for the construction of vehicles. Even aircraft is made out of aluminum. However, the supply of aluminum is limited.
Last but not least, you can go ahead and add groundwater to the sources of non-renewable energy. People in today’s world tend to use groundwater for most of their activities.
They include many day-to-day activities as well. In fact, it is essential for their survival as well. However, groundwater available for the consumption of human beings is limited. Due to the same reason, it is called a non-renewable source of energy as well.
As you can see, these energy sources cannot be made from any practical method, within a short period of time. Currently, these energy sources are widely available.
However, it is important for you to go ahead and start consuming them responsibly. That’s because we don’t have any practical method to make those energy sources after we consume all that’s available.
On the other hand, it is better if we can look for the alternatives available for these energy sources and switch to them as well. Then we will not have to worry too much about our consumption or limit our consumption.
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The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, human society is for the time being dependent on nonrenewable resources as its primary source of energy. Approximately 80 percent of the total amount of energy used globally each year comes from fossil fuels. We depend on fossil fuels because they are energy-rich and relatively cheap to process.
But a major problem with fossil fuels, aside from their being in limited supply, is that burning them releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Rising levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the main cause of global warming.
Alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, are a possible solution to the depletion of non-renewable resources. Both of these clean energy sources are available in unlimited supply.