Renewable And Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable Sources

Non-renewable resources are finite – once they are used they cannot be reused or replaced, because they take too long to form or regrow. They include the major fossil fuels formed over tens of thousands of years i.e. coal, oil and natural gas.

Coal

Overview

  • Fossil Fuel
  • Formed underground from compacted and decaying plant and animal matter – flammable solid
  • Over 200 years lifespan
  • Makes 23% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – USA, Chine, Australia, India, South Africa and Russia
  • Energy uses – electricity, heating and coke

Advantages

  • High world reserves
  • Newer mines are highly mechanised

Disadvantages

  • Could be the cause of climate change due to CO2
  • Releases pollution
  • Its mining can be difficult and dangerous
  • Opencast pits destroy land
  • It is heavy and bulky to transport

Oil

Overview

  • Fossil Fuel
  • Formed underground from compacted and decaying plant and animal matter – flammable liquid
  • Around 50 years lifespan
  • Makes about 37% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Saudi Arabia, USA, Russia, Iran, Mexico, Venezuela and China
  • Energy uses – electricity, petroleum, diesel, fuel oils, liquid petroleum gas, coke, plastics, medicine and fertilisers.

Advantages

  • Has a variety of uses
  • Is fairly easy to transport
  • Is efficient and less polluting than coal

Disadvantages

  • There are low reserves
  • Some air pollution and danger of spills and explosions

Natural Gas

Overview

  • Fossil Fuel
  • Formed underground from compacted and decaying plant and animal matter – flammable gas
  • 60 years lifespan
  • Makes 23% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Russia, USA, Canada, UK and Algeria
  • Energy uses – electricity, cooking and heating

Advantages

  • It is efficient
  • Clean least polluting of the fossil fuels
  • It is easy to transport

Disadvantages

  • Risk of explosions and some air pollution

Partially Renewable Sources

Partially Renewable resources can only be so as they can be rejuvenated naturally and for a shorter amount of time than fossil fuels. But if a resource is used from natural source this is non-renewable, the source has to produced for the specific function of energy manufacturing. Furthermore if a recourse is used more that it is rejuvenated this is non-renewable.

Fuel Wood

Overview

  • Relies on a supply of wood
  • Trees, usually in natural environments, but can be grown renewably and specifically for fuel
  • Totally variable lifespan
  • Makes about 10% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – LIC’s: African and Asian countries
  • Energy uses – heating and cooking

Advantages

  • Is easily available
  • Collected daily by local people
  • Free and replanting is possible

Disadvantages

  • Trees can be used up quickly
  • It is time consuming to cut
  • Collect and transport daily
  • Replanting cannot keep up with the consumption due to the time taken to grow a tree
  • Deforestation can lead to erosion and desertification.

Nuclear

Overview

  • Relies on a supply of nuclear material and other such costs
  • Heavy metal elements found naturally in rock deposits
  • Potentially infinite lifespan
  • Makes 6% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – USA, France, Japan, Germany and Russia
  • Energy uses – used to generate energy from the release of heat from heavy metal elements

Advantages

  • It is clean and efficient
  • Has fewer greenhouse emissions
  • It uses very small amount of raw materials and has small amounts of waste

Disadvantages

  • There is a danger of radiation
  • High costs of building and decommissioning power station
  • Causes problems when disposal of nuclear waste

Renewable Sources

Renewable energy sources are generally cleaner than non-renewable sources in the respect that they have little to no by-products or pollutants. As yet renewable energy production makes only 10% of the worlds energy needs. Most sources of renewable energy seems attractive options. They directly exploit aspects of the environment that are inexhaustible and don’t negatively affect the environment much. The disadvantage to renewable sources are they cannot produce energy in the same huge quantities as non-renewable sources. They way to solve the problem with fossil fuels releasing by-products, is to no longer use them and make the switch to renewable energy, specifically nuclear energy, to fore fill the worlds energy demands.

Hydro-electric

Overview

  • A supply of water is needed; held with in a reservoir and channelled down pipes to turbines
  • Makes 3% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Canada, USA, Brazil, China and Russia

Advantages

  • Is totally clean
  • Reservoirs also control flooding and can provide water in times of shortages and are often remotely located in mountains and sparsely populated areas.

Disadvantages

  • Large areas of land can be flooded for a reservoir
  • Silt is trapped behind dam therefor lakes silt up and is visually polluting.

Geothermal

Overview

  • Boreholes can be drilled below ground to use the earths natural heat to boil water and generate electricity or directly heat a near by area or building
  • Makes less than 1% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Iceland and Hungary

Advantages

  • Many potential site – most are in volcanic areasat the moment

Disadvantages

  • Sulphuric gases are released from the earth
  • It is expensive to develop
  • Very high temperatures can create maintenance problems

Wind

Overview

  • Wind drives blades to turn turbines generating electricity
  • Makes less than 1% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Denmark, USA and others

Advantages

  • Very clean
  • No air pollution
  • Small-scale and large-scale schemes possible
  • It is cheap to run

Disadvantages

  • Winds are unpredictable and not constant
  • It means visually and noise pollution in quite rural areas
  • Many turbines needed to produce sufficient energy

Tidal/Wave

Overview

  • Tide water turns turbines and waves generates energy from movement
  • Makes an insignificant % of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – France and Russia

Advantages

  • Large schemes could produce a lot of electricity
  • It is clean and a non-pollutant
  • Barrage can protect coasts from erosion

Disadvantages

  • Very expensive to build
  • Few suitable sites
  • Disrupts coastal ecosystems and shipping

Solar

Overview

  • Relies on there being a clear sky and a sunny day.
  • Solar panels or photovoltaic cells utilise energy from the sun
  • Makes less than 1% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – USA, India and others
  • Energy uses – electricity and direct heating

Advantages

  • Could be used in most parts of the world
  • There is a virtually unlimited supply
  • Is clean and efficient
  • Can be built into new buildings

Disadvantages

  • Is expensive
  • It requires no clouds and for it to be day time for energy to be collected
  • Large amounts of energy require technological development and reduction in costs of photovoltaic cells

Biofuel

Overview

  • Relies on good  weather, rain and fertile ground.
  • Plants and animal waste are fermented with micro-organisms and the gases released from this are used as fuel to boil water generating electricity.
  • Makes less than 1% of the worlds energy use
  • Main producers – Argentina, Brazil, japan, Germany, Denmark and India
  • Energy uses – electricity, ethanol, methane and heating

Advantages

  • It is widely available, especially in LICs
  • It uses waste products
  • It can be used at a local level

Disadvantages

  • It can be expensive to set up
  • Waste cannot be recycled
  • It leaves some pollutants
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