This is a very short guide that outlines the definition of non renewable energy, along with some clarifications of what it is in comparison to other types of energy, and also includes some examples of different types of non renewable energy.
Definition Of Non Renewable Energy
There’s many slightly different definitions of non renewable energy.
Most definitions include the following components … non-renewable energy:
- Comes from non natural sources, or non natural processes (for example, oil has to be refined by man made processes)
- Comes from a source, that when used, will deplete, or takes a long time to regenerate (more than the length of a human lifetime – usually hundreds, thousands or millions of years)
It’s called non renewable, because if you compare it to energy sources like wind and solar, these energy sources are natural and are available almost immediately for an infinite amount of time (as long as the wind is blowing and the sun is shining). Non renewable energy sources in comparison may face scarcity and depletion issues over time.
Fossil fuels for examples take hundreds of thousands or million of years to form from the heat and pressure under the Earth’s surface, whilst uranium ‘has been thought to be produced in one or more supernovae over 6 billion years ago. More recent research suggests some uranium is formed in the merger of neutron stars. Uranium later became enriched in the continental crust’ (world-nuclear.org)
Types & Examples Of Non Renewable Energy
They mainly consist of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), and nuclear energy (from uranium):
- Coal is a fossil fuel and there are different types of coal (black coal, and brown coal being two of the main types). It is mined, processed, and then used for different application such as at a coal plant power stations to generate electricity
- Crude oil and other liquids produced from fossil fuels are refined into petroleum products [via human processes] that people use for many different purposes. We use petroleum products to propel vehicles (such as gasoline and diesel), to heat buildings, and to produce electricity (eia.gov)
- Natural gas is a hydrocarbon fossil energy source that formed deep beneath the earth’s surface. Once raw natural gas is processed, and the natural gas liquids are separated, various natural gas products can be created and used for many energy applications, such as heating and cooking, transport, and electricity generation.
- If we take gas powered cars for example – A natural gas vehicle (NGV) is an alternative fuel vehicle that uses compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Natural gas vehicles should not be confused with vehicles powered by LPG (mainly propane), which is a fuel with a fundamentally different composition (wikipedia.org)
- Uranium ore is mined from the ground, which is then processed and refined, before we can use it as a nuclear reactor fuel. We use nuclear reactors for electricity generation (when uranium atoms are split).
An Asterisk With Nuclear & Uranium
Although uranium and nuclear are looked at as non renewable, there are potential technological breakthroughs that could significantly extend the supplies of uranium we have left.
Other Resources On Non Renewable Energy Sources