Renewable energy and non-renewable energy? What's the difference?

Are you sure you know the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy?

Really, are you sure you know the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy? Trying to answer the obvious sometimes happens confusing questions arise. So, why don’t we clear it once again?

Renewable energy is the energy obtained from natural resources that are replenished. That’s clear. Those natural sources can be wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. On the contrary, non-renewable energy is obtained from finite resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, that are not replenishable in a human timescale.

Renewable energy advantages

Renewable energy sources have many benefits over non-renewable sources. Firstly, renewable energy is clean. That means it does not produce harmful emissions or contribute to global warming. Unlike non-renewable sources, renewable energy sources do not generate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. This makes renewable energy a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option.

Another advantage of renewable energy is that it is typically more cost-effective in the long term, as the costs associated with the production and maintenance of renewable energy sources are much lower than those associated with non-renewable sources.

Additionally, decentralization of renewable energy sources is often possible, meaning that there is a possibility of generating them and using them locally, reducing the need for long-distance transportation of power.

Why do we still use non-renewables?

On the other hand, non-renewable energy sources have been the primary source of energy for many years and continue to play a significant role in the global energy mix. We extract these sources from the earth through mining, drilling, or extraction processes. Once extracted, we cannot replenish them.

The finite nature of non-renewable energy sources has led to concerns about energy security and dependence on foreign sources, as well as environmental impacts such as air and water pollution, and the release of greenhouse gases.

Another drawback of non-renewable energy is that it is often more expensive to produce and distribute than renewable energy sources. The costs associated with the extraction and processing of non-renewable sources can be substantial, and they often passed these costs on to consumers in the form of higher energy bills.

Furthermore, the process of extracting and transporting non-renewable sources can have significant environmental impacts, including land degradation, deforestation, and increased levels of air and water pollution.

Is nuclear energy renewable energy?

We do not consider nuclear energy a renewable energy source. The controlled release of power from atomic nuclei produces nuclear power through a process called nuclear fission. The fuel used in nuclear power plants, typically uranium or plutonium, is a finite resource that will eventually deplete.

Additionally, the process of extracting and processing the fuel, as well as disposing of the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants, can have significant environmental impacts. For these reasons, nuclear power is a non-renewable power source.

Nuclear energy and European Commission’s position

The European Commission considers nuclear energy as a form of low-carbon or carbon-free power, which is a subset of the broader category of renewable energy. This classification is based on the fact that nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main contributor to climate change.

However, the classification of nuclear power as a form of renewable energy has been a matter of debate and controversy among experts, as well as among the public.

While nuclear power is technically a low-carbon power source, many do not consider it renewable due to the finite nature of nuclear fuel, the potential dangers associated with nuclear power, and the long-term environmental impacts of nuclear waste. The classification of nuclear power as a form of renewable energy by the European Commission has the intention in encouraging the development and deployment of low-carbon power sources. But it has also sparked controversy and criticism from those who believe that true renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, should be the focus of energy policy.