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.
Non-renewable energy sources
There are two types of non-renewable (or exhaustible) energy sources:
- Conventional non-renewable energy sources. It's about fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas and chemical reactions between certain materials (batteries).
- Non-conventional non-renewable energy sources. These energy sources come from agrofuels, biofuels, or cultivated fuels, and nuclear fuels (uranium and plutonium) used in nuclear power plants.
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.
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.
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.
- What is uranium? How does it work? World Nuclear Association.
- "Methane hydrates". Worldoceanreview.com
Last review: January 3, 2018