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Renewable vs Non-renewable Energy Sources

Updated on July 28, 2016

Alternative Energy Sources

Alternative Energy Sources are the green energies for today and tomorrow.
Alternative Energy Sources are the green energies for today and tomorrow. | Source

Evaluating Energy Resources: Renewable (Alternative) Energy Vs Nonrenewable Energy Sources

Also known as Alternative Energy, Clean Energy or Green Energy Sources; Renewable energy sources own a number of benefits that make them a superior alternative over Non-renewable sources (Fossils); which are costly, hazardous, and depleting.

The difference between Non-renewable and renewable energy sources are distinct; nonrenewable energies take several years to form, and cannot be regenerated in a short time period: While on the other hand; renewable energies can be regenerated or replenished at a comparable rate of consumption.

Outspokenly; nonrenewable energy sources; which include oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium - are the primary world's energy supplier today and will still remain the major source of world's energy for a foreseeable future.

According to Window on State Government Texas; fossils provide 85 percent of the world's energy: The rest of the percentage is provided by Uranium (Nuclear Energy) and Alternative energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, hydro-electric energy, bio energy and geothermal energy.

On the other hand; the world's energy demand is constantly souring up in the sky as the world's population increases significantly every single day: The significant growth in world's population has a direct effect on available energy resources, especially non-renewable or fossils which caters for the largest percentage of the total world's energy in supply.

Ideally; the world's energy consumption is rising steadily; and fossils are being exhausted. However, this should not bother energy suppliers and prospects, since according to several energy researchers such as Society of Petroleum Engineers ; fossils are currently abundant and will supply the world's energy for a foreseeable future.

As such; the depletion of non-renewable energy sources should not be among the major determining factors when evaluating energy sources to implement in different regions: That leaves us with four major factors that determine which is which between non-renewable and renewable energy resources.

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Wind Eergy

Tehachapi Wind Farm
Tehachapi Wind Farm | Source

Top 4 Reasons Why Alternative Energy Sources are Superior

Renewable energy sources possess a number of valuable factors that make them a sole world's energy supplier is the future. While we cannot belittle the roles played by fossils; they are significantly depleting and cannot meet the growing world's energy consumption; which various researches are estimating to rise by 50 percent in the year 2020. On the other hand; fossils are associated with a number of negativity, both economically and environmentally as follows:

1. Cost Factors

The total production cost of non-renewable energy sources is always higher as compare to alternative energy sources; and this explains why the end products of nonrenewable energy components such as petroleum and propane are usually expensive for the consumers to offset as much as possible; the total cost incurred in their production.

Extraction Cost

Firstly; fossils such as oil and coal are associated with extraction cost, which is incurred when extracting the crude resources from beneath the Earth. Heavy machines that are used to break the soil surface need to be operated and maintained by trained professionals who must be paid accordingly. Besides; these machines require sufficient power in different forms for them to be operational. On the other hand; renewable energy sources are not linked to extraction costs since they are abundant and readily available for use by anyone.

Transportation Cost

Secondly; non-renewable energies are associated with a transportation cost; which is incurred when transporting the extracted crude materials from the extraction sites to the manufacturing sites. Depending on the crude material extracted; transportation of these fossils can be effected through water, air, and land using railway lines, road or pipelines.

On the other hand; alternative energies for example sun, are not associated with transportation cost and can be used directly from the source when a right solar technology and superior quality solar panels are utilized.

Manufacturing Cost

Thirdly; nonrenewable energy sources have got a relationship with manufacturing cost. Crude fossils such as oil and coal among others, need to go through a number processing stages for it to be an end product that can be useful in providing energy. To add on top; the cost of maintenance which is done to the manufacturing machines is also incurred, not forgetting wages, salaries, and commissions being paid to the entire work-force.

On the other hand; alternative energy sources need not to be manufactured, as they only need energy converting technology such wind mills, solar panels and water turbines among others; for energy to be converted into useful form for example electricity.

Cost of Containing Natural gases

Natural gases such as carbon dioxide; are the major cause of the global warming. As such; there is always an extra cost of containing such gases as a part of the requirements of environmental policy makers to help control the rise in global temperature, so that the environment is kept at a reasonable composition of the fresh air and dangerous natural gases.

On the other hand; alternative energy sources are considered green energy technology since they don't produce natural gases that affects the global temperatures.

Solar Energy

Solar panels generate energy from the sun; a green energy resource
Solar panels generate energy from the sun; a green energy resource | Source

Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric Power Plant at Bratsk Dam in Siberia, Russia
Hydroelectric Power Plant at Bratsk Dam in Siberia, Russia | Source

Alternative Energy vs Nonrenewable Energy

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2. Environmental Factors

Nonrenewable energy sources impose lots of environmental risks; from air pollution, acidic rains, water contamination, global warming, rising sea levels, to melting ices and Hurricanes.

Global Warming

Global warming for example; has remained a major environmental problem for several years without clear solutions to help control the damage on the environment: Nonrenewable energy sources are associated with production of dangerous natural gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

When the composition of these natural gases get higher in the atmosphere; the global temperature increases significantly which is not conducive for the living organisms including human beings, animals and plants.

On the other hand; global warming has a number of significant effects on the environment; including the rising sea levels, melting ices, and lately being associated with possibility to cause stronger Hurricane.

Acidic Rains

Acidic rains is among the bad effects of nonrenewable energy sources; which is cause by nitrogen from fossils as one of the components. An acidic rain has a number of limitations; including causes of poor human health conditions, forest degradation, damaging buildings, and polluting water sources such as lakes and streams.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea levels are today very common all over the world and is subjecting various regions such as coastal cities and islands at a risk of being claimed by waters. Rising sea levels are caused by global warming which results from the production of natural gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Destruction of Aquatic Life

Transporting fossils such oil through lakes and seas have caused oil spills into the lakes causing harm to the aquatic plants and animals. Oil spill is one of the most dangerous disasters caused by products of fossils; and a number of court cases exist today.

Deformation of Useful Lands

Drilling the crude oil, coal and natural gases from an beneath the earth has a number of environmental challenges such as extensive land deformation and deforestation; which leads to a wastage of productive land that can be used as a plantation to boost the economy, water catchments and to grow human food. Drilling fossils such as oil has faces a number of controversies due to dangerous and extreme environmental effects; and this is what lead to discontinue the pursuit of trapping the vast oil reserve at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal Power Station
Geothermal Power Station | Source

3. Efficiency and Capacity

Currently; non-renewable energy sources have an impressive efficiency and capacity and are meeting the largest percentage of the world's energy demand. However; there is no doubt that the efficiency and capacity of renewable energy technologies are increasing at a higher rate; and may in the near future compare to the efficiency and capacity of fossils.

Several renewable energy technologies have existed for a longer period of time; and their efficiency and capacity are improving significantly as the newer and advanced technologies are coming into the market.

Investors, researchers, and governments worldwide are working to ensure that the world's green energy technologies improve in efficiency and capacities to supplement fossils. Larger capacity solar panel PVs have been improvised and some are already working in developed countries such as China, USA and UK.

On the other hand; wind, geothermal, bio-gas and hydroelectric power new and efficient technologies are also improving significant; and lager capacity and efficient wind and water turbines have been improvised and are adding to the total world's energy in supply.

Energy Factors

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4. Economic Impacts and Employment

Renewable energy sources are among the primary world's economy boosters both in developed and developing countries worldwide: The technologies used to convert renewable energy sources into electricity need to be operated and maintained by trained professionals; consequently creating jobs to the individuals with skills.

On the other hand; semiskilled and none-skilled individuals in these regions where clean energy exists also get an opportunity to be employed and improve there living standards.

Besides; according to Inter Press Service; US alone can create more than 600,000 new skilled jobs by improving the efficiency of energy. Since new clean energy technologies are emerging to improve energy efficiency worldwide; this could create even more employment opportunities and consequently boost the world's economy.

Limitations of Clean Energy

Alternative energy sources have a couple of limitations: However, some of these limitations are offset by the huge economic impacts brought by the clean energy plants installation:

Solar Energy

Solar energy is generated from the sun; as such, regions with lots of cloud covers will not benefit much from solar energy by installing solar panels.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is generated when a strong wind moves to turn the wind turbines to produce energy. For wind energy to be utilized; there must be a sufficient wind density to be able to move the heavy wind turbines and produce energy. This means that regions with low wind densities will not be able to use the clean energy from the wind.

On the other hand; wind firms always need a large piece of land for the installation of adequate wind mills that can produce a larger capacity of power: This will interfere with lands that could be used for grazing and farming various crops.

To add on top; larger wind turbines have been associated with killing birds when they get in contact with flying birds; resulting in destroying the ecosystem.

Hydroelectric Energy

Hydro energy is generated from a moving water source that turns the turbines to produce energy. Constructing dams and water turbines under the water is usually an expensive project that needs sufficient funds to be operational.

On the other hand; larger and heavy water turbines interfere with the lives of aquatic animals and plants which is not a good thing for the complete ecosystem.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is generated by heat from the Earth: It is not widely available and only a few countries can be able to generate and use geothermal energy. However, regions with this clean energy source benefit a lot.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is produced from the remains of products of living or recently living organisms: The conversion technology for bio energy has hindered the use of this clean energy source.

The majority of people consider energy from biomass as unclean since they are wastes; and this means that advanced energy conversion technologies must be improvised to enable the use of biomass as a clean energy resource.

Nuclear Energy

You may wonder why I classified nuclear energy under clean energy; yet it is produced from uranium which is not renewable and is depleting. Nuclear energy is a green technology in respect to the fact that it does not emit green house gases that are dangerous to our environment.

However; nuclear energy still possess a number of harmful effects on the environment; and as a result it comprise of several costs that are associated with safety measures, emergencies, containment of radioactive waste, and its storage system.

Conclusion

Global warming and other environmental challenges the world is currently facing are among the major unresolved issues: Consequently; green energy sources which are environmentally friendly; have to be utilized to conserve the environment. On the other hand; alternative energy sources are also considered as among the major economy boosters, and also cost effective energies.

According to Energy.gov , clean energy industry is expected to grow in the future as it generates billions in the world economy. Moreover, energy companies are developing more reliable renewable energy technologies, and as technology advances, efficiency and capacity of renewable energy sources are expected to rise to cater for the increasing world's energy demand.

As such, governments, environmental policy makers, and investors worldwide; have to play their respective roles to ensure that renewable energy technologies become less costly and more efficient, to supplement heavy usage of fossils, and to meet the future worlds’ energy demand that is estimated to grow by more than 50 percent in the year 2020 by competent energy researchers.


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    • Barack James profile image
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      Barack James 2 years ago from Green City in the Sun

      Arel: Wind energy is of cause one of the biggest ecomic boosters all over the world in terms of employment and energy supply. However, we can not neglect the big role nonrenewables are playing today despite the harms they are costing our economy. Thanks for your comment.

    • Barack James profile image
      Author

      Barack James 2 years ago from Green City in the Sun

      Writer Fox; so bad I envy electric cars:) However, the entire world is well embracing alternative energy technologies in various industries at a significant silent pace; and not so far, it will be a better place with clean energy all over - but hey; about terrorism...

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Solar power and electric cars are big where I live. If the whole world would adopt these technologies, the world would be a better place and terrorists would have less money to fund terrorism.

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