What is the Difference Between Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy

Understanding the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy will give you an idea why the former has become a much important topic in the field of science and technology. Today the greatest attention is focused on the energy sources. Because most of the energy sources which we are using today, are non-renewable energy sources. The natural process of production of these energy sources is irreversible. In other words, once the modern generation consume s the existing resources, it takes millions of years to naturally produce for the future generation. Therefore, the use of renewable energy sources becomes an urgent requirement all over the world.

What is Renewable Energy?

They are the energy sources which are continuously produced by the nature. The sunlight, wind power, water, plants and biomass are some of the examples for renewable energy sources. The nature of these energy sources is, they are continuously replenished by the nature, when people consume them. These sources do not directly provide energy, but these energy sources can transform into usable energy form.

Renewable energy sources are the first energy source used by the humankind. For example, they used firewood to produce heat, wind and water for transportation and later wind power was used as a mechanical energy source. The use of renewable energy sources is an environment-friendly concept . These technologies are often called “clean” or “green” because they produce a little amount of environment pollutants compared to that of non-renewable energy sources.

Solar Energy

Solar power is an unlimited resource produced by the environment, and it costs nothing collecting solar energy. The modern technology has found various methods to capture solar energy to produce hot water, steam and electricity.

Hydro Energy

Water is widely used to generate electricity all over the world. It is the largest source of renewable energy. However, due to the climate changes, some problems have arisen in availability of water throughout the entire the year.

Wind Energy

This has been used as an energy source since the beginning of the human civilization. Nowadays both near shore and offshore areas employ windmills to produce electricity. The problem with the wind power is, it is sometimes not available throughout the year because the seasonal wind patterns change from time to time.

What is the Difference Between Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy

Geothermal Energy

This refers to the heat energy generated by the earth’s crust.

Biomass Energy

Solid waste is another source of energy that is used to produce electricity and heat . This helps to prevent environment pollution because it finds a way to consume waste material for an essential usage. The gas produces in landfills (methane / land fill gas) is also another energy source for power generation. Most of these plants run in a small scale for the production of heat and electricity.

Ocean Energy

A wide range of technologies is available to transform kinetic, thermal, chemical energy in seawater to produce electricity.

What is Non-Renewable Energy?

These energy sources are limited and their production rate is very slow. Examples of non-renewable energy sources are coal, oil, peat and nuclear power. It is very convenient to use non-renewable energy sources (fuel, natural gas, coal, etc) to fulfill our energy requirements, but we have a limited supply on the earth.

The biggest problem in the usage of non-renewable energy sources is, the consumption rate of these sources are very higher than the production rate. It takes billions of years to produce them, but we can consume a million barrels of oil in one second. The prices of non-renewable energy sources are relatively high and it always increases since the demand is very high compared to the supply. Not all countries have these energy sources and those who have these energy sources have the power to control the world market price.


Oil is buried to the depth of 0.3 – 5 km deeper in the earth. It can only be found as admixture in deposits of natural gas, when in deeper. Oil is the largest energy source in the world and its availability is drastically decreasing day by day. Therefore, finding an alternative energy source is a major requirement in the present society.


Peat is formed by the decomposition of plant materials at different stages and accumulating in extremely wet conditions. When we consider the commercial production of peat, around 95% of the peat production is done by 800 companies in the world.


The use of coal a s an energy source runs back to the ancient days. Coal has been used as an energy source to run trains in early days. It is a fossil fuel and is used to produce heat energy and to produce coke in making steel and iron. The burning of coal has adverse health and environmental effects.

What is the difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy?

  • Renewable energy sources are unlimited and non-renewable energy sources are limited.
  • The usage of renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power, hydro power is environment-friendly. However, consumption of non-renewable energy sources causes so many environmental problems.
  • Non-renewable energy sources are convenient to use, but there are restrictions in using renewable energy sources. Weather changes and unavailability in some periods of the year are some of those problems.
  • Non-renewable energy sources are expensive, but most of the renewable sources are freely available in the nature.


Renewable vs Non-Renewable Energy

We use energy sources to meet our energy requirements. There are two types of energy sources; namely renewable energy sources and non-renewable energy sources. Examples for non-renewable energy sources are coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and fossil fuels. They have a limited supply. Examples for renewable energy sources are solar power, hydro power, wind power, biomass and geothermal energy. These energy sources possess an unlimited supply. The usage of renewable energy sources is very environment-friendly, whereas the use of non-renewable energy sources causes a lot of environmental problems. Energy sources can convert energy from one form to another. For example, they can produce electrical energy, mechanical energy and heat.

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