Fossil fuels.
Extraction of oil

Treatment of fossil fuels

Plantation for the production of biofuels

Non-renewable energy

Non-renewable energy

Non- renewable energies are the methods of obtaining energy through a source of exhaustible energy. The concept of non-renewable energy is taken into account at the scale of human life, since certain processes, such as the accumulation of carbon, have taken up to five hundred million years.

In general, non-renewable energy is what consumes some type of fuel (oil, coal, uranium ...). While renewable energy uses other types of energy resources (solar radiation, the kinetic energy of the wind, the force of water, the movement of the tides, etc.). Although properly speaking some fuels, in the near future, they can consist of raw materials considered renewable, such as hydrogen.

Solar energy takes advantage of the radiation generated by the Sun. The Sun has a limited life, but this life is so many millions of years that on a human scale it is considered inexhaustible. For this reason, solar energy can not be classified as non-renewable solar energy.

Definition of non-renewable energy

In a general way, we define non-renewable energies as energy sources that tend to deplete, becoming too expensive or too polluting for the environment, as opposed to renewable energies, which are replenished naturally in a relatively short period of time.

Non-renewable energy sources

There are two types of non-renewable (or exhaustible) energy sources:

Geothermal energy, in general, is considered as renewable energy, but there is a certain type of geothermal energy that takes advantage of hot water that would also be non-renewable energy in certain locations.

Fossil energy

Fossil energy is part of non- renewable energies. We refer to fossil energy to the energy generated by fossil fuels. The main sources of fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas. These resources are called conventional fossil resources, unlike fossil fuels called unconventional. Non-conventional fossil resources are not presented in their current form and are present in hard-to-access deposits.

Non-renewable resources

Non-renewable energy source: coal as a fossil fuel

The concept of non-renewable energy is closely related to that of non-renewable resources. Non-renewable resources are all those resources that the rate of consumption is higher than the rate of generation. Non-renewable resources include renewable energy, but also materials and minerals.

The case of fossil fuels, for example coal, is about non-renewable minerals with which non-renewable energy is obtained.

Earth minerals and metallic ores

Terrestrial minerals and metallic minerals are examples of non-renewable resources. The metals themselves are present in large quantities in the earth's crust, and their extraction by humans only occurs when they are concentrated by natural geological processes (such as heat - thermal energy -, pressure, organic activity, weathering and other processes) sufficient for be economically viable to extract. These processes usually need tens of thousands to millions of years to develop.

Localized deposits of metallic minerals near the surface, which can be extracted economically by humans, are not renewable in human times. There are certain minerals and rare earth elements that are more scarce and exhausting than others. These materials have a high demand in the industry, particularly for electronics.

Most metallic minerals are considered much easier to supply than fossil fuels, because the conditions for the formation of fossil fuels are more difficult and limited than the conditions for the formation of metallic minerals.

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Last review: April 9, 2018