Renewable and non-renewable resources

The renewable resources are those natural resources regenerate in a range of time equal to or less to the consumption. This type of resource is characterized by being easily regenerable, either by natural processes or by human action, existing in a practically indefinite quantity .

The non – renewable resources , however, are those natural resources whose regeneration occurs at a rate much slower than consumption, so their number is limited. Because of this, these resources are exhaustible .

Both types of resources are generally used in the production of different types of energy , each presenting particular advantages and disadvantages.

Renewable resourcesNonrenewable resources
DefinitionThey are natural resources that can be renewed at the rate of their consumption, being in a potentially unlimited quantity.They are natural resources that cannot be regenerated at the same rate as their consumption, and they run out over time.
  • They are of fast regeneration.
  • It is possible that they are in large numbers.
  • Easy to use and process.
  • They regenerate slowly.
  • Its quantity is limited.
  • All these resources are on our planet.
  • They are friendly to the environment.
  • They require minimal human intervention.
  • They can become unlimited.
  • They generate a lot of energy at a relatively low cost.
  • If necessary, they are easy to remove and manufacture.
  • They are in good quantity.
  • The initial investment cost is high.
  • Unpredictable.
  • Power generation is limited with current technology.
  • They cause a negative impact on the environment.
  • In case of exhaustion, it is impossible to regenerate them.
  • They are available in some regions and not others.
  • Their interdependence can create geo-economic conflicts.
  • The sun, wind, tides, geothermal energy.
  • Water.
  • Biomass and biofuels (ethanol).
  • Agricultural production.
  • Some timber forests.
  • Coal.
  • Natural gas (methane).
  • Oil and byproducts.
  • Mineral carbon.
  • Different minerals and metals.
  • Some underground water reservoirs.

What is a resource?

A resource is an element that is used to produce , directly or indirectly, so it has an economic production value and can be potential, be in use or be in reserves.

Natural resources are a type of resources that are found in nature and that are used in their natural state or after being processed. These can be renewable or non-renewable, which means that it is possible to regenerate them or, instead, be depleted due to their consumption.

They are used for human consumption, in the production of energy, in goods and / or in services.

What are renewable resources?

The renewable resources are a kind of natural resource that can be renewed at an interval of time equal to or less to the rate at which it is consumed. This type of resource does not generate negative impacts on the environment, during its use or exploitation.

Some of these resources are basically unlimited , since they are renewed or produced naturally without human intervention. For example, solar radiation and wind.

Others, on the other hand, are renewed as soon as they are being used, so they remain in constant availability, as in the case of timber forests and different agricultural resources.

Those resources that require there to be a production process to obtain them, assume that their consumption is not exceeded, since it can affect its reserves.

Characteristics of renewable resources

  • They regenerate almost or faster than they are consumed.
  • They may or may not require human intervention for their generation.
  • They can be found in unlimited quantity.
  • Its use and / or production is generally environmentally friendly.
  • In most cases, obtaining energy from these resources requires a high initial economic investment.
  • The behavior of some of these resources can be unpredictable.

Renewable energy resources

Renewable energy is a type of energy that comes from nature and its use generally does not have negative effects on the environment, compared to various types of non-renewable energy.

Main renewable energy resources

The solar energy is one of the renewable energy resources more abundant. The amount of energy that can be obtained from the sun for human consumption is unlimited, considering current energy needs.

The energy from the wind, called wind energy , is obtained thanks to large structures called wind turbines, installed in wind farms where there are constant currents of strong winds. These currents drive turbines that generate electrical energy.

The hydraulic energy is that which is obtained from the movement of water, usually rivers. As with wind energy, this is obtained by means of turbines.

The geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy that uses the heat emanating from within the earth, from its internal radiation.

Another example of renewable energy is biofuels , which are characterized by being produced through the use of agricultural crops. For example, growing corn and sugar cane produces ethanol.

Advantages of renewable energy resources

Some advantages of these types of resources are that they are found in practically unlimited quantities, the operating costs are much lower than those necessary in the generation of non-renewable energy, in addition to allowing the energy to be produced locally with the available resources.

Disadvantages of renewable energy resources

On the other hand, among the disadvantages are that the cost of producing this type of energy is high in the short term. In addition, since there is little or no human influence in the production of many of the resources themselves (as in the case of the wind), these can be unpredictable.

While it is true that they can offer the capacity to create energy locally, they also limit the type of energy that can be used (a region poor in rivers is not capable of generating as much hydroelectric energy, for example).

Examples of renewable resources

  • Sun (solar radiation).
  • Water.
  • Wind and tides.
  • Biomass (it is the organic matter that produces energy, whether processed or in a natural state) and Biofuels.
  • Animal population for human consumption that is kept in reproduction.
  • Manufactured items such as recycled paper.
  • Tree forests that have an accelerated growth cycle.

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What are non-renewable resources?

The non – renewable resources are resources that take a long time to renew and / or exist in limited quantity , being that human consumption can deplete their reserves.

Basically, the more these types of resources are used, the more scarce they become, because they cannot regenerate naturally in the short term.

Characteristics of non-renewable resources

  • They do not regenerate or they do it slowly.
  • Its consumption rate is greater than that of its regeneration.
  • Generally, they are relatively easy to obtain.
  • It is possible to obtain a lot of energy from these at a relatively low economic cost.
  • Its use and exploitation have a negative impact on the environment.

Non-renewable energy resources

Non-renewable energy resources are those resources used to obtain energy, being finite and / or depleting without being able to regenerate quickly.

One of its main characteristics is the fact that these resources are found on our planet. For example, oil, natural gas, and various types of minerals.

The biggest disadvantage that the use and exploitation of this type of energy resources entails is that they are highly damaging to the environment.

Main non-renewable energy resources

The oil is a nonrenewable energy resource that despite increase their value over time, is still relatively inexpensive, when taking into account their ability to generate energy. Petroleum derivatives function as fuel, for example gasoline and diesel.

The nuclear energy is a form of non – renewable energy obtained from minerals such as uranium. This is mined and then processed atomically by means of nuclear fission, which leads it to release large amounts of energy.

The coal is also a widely used material, as well as oil, and that needs to be extracted. This is used to generate electrical energy in specialized thermal plants. The biggest problem that it entails is its high level of environmental pollution.

Another highly-used form of non-renewable energy is that which comes from natural gas , specifically methane . This is under layers of earth, being necessary to excavate to extract it. It is used to generate heat, in domestic heaters and for cooking.

Advantages of non-renewable energy resources

The energy obtained from this type of resource is relatively inexpensive, when compared to the energy production of renewable resources. Generally, from materials such as fossil fuels it is possible to obtain a large amount of energy at low cost.

In addition, this type of resource is easier to manufacture to obtain energy than renewable ones. Many of these, such as coal and natural gas, are basically ready to use.

Disadvantages of non-renewable energy resources

Among the main disadvantages of non-renewable energy resources is the fact that they are exhaustible. The consequences of a high dependence on its use can be serious, in the event of a global shortage.

In addition, practices such as extensive mining can affect large areas, the habitat and animal species of a region. Likewise, the combustion of petroleum products contributes to environmental pollution (for example, by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) and global warming.

Another big problem is the interdependence created by the widespread and standardized consumption of certain types of non-renewable energy. For example, when a country is rich in these types of resources, it can be involved in complex geoeconomic, social and human problems with other countries that depend on it.

In the same way, countries that lack these resources are at the mercy of fluctuations in the international prices of these resources and their derivatives.

Examples of non-renewable resources

  • Petroleum and its derivatives.
  • Natural gas.
  • Mineral carbon.
  • Nuclear energy.
  • Some underground water settlements.

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