Difference between Renewable and Non-renewable Resources

Most natural resources, such as coal and petroleum, were formed millions of years ago. Other resources, such as sunlight, were present even before the earth was formed. Regardless, we all depend on these resources in some way or another. These resources are termed natural resources and are very important for life on earth. Natural resources are classified into renewable resources and non-renewable resources.

Table of Contents

Renewable Resources

The resources which cannot be exhausted even after continuous utilisation are termed renewable resources. Examples of renewable resources are the sun, wind, and tidal energy.

Non-renewable Resources

The resources which cannot be immediately replaced once they are depleted are called non-renewable resources. Examples of non-renewable resources include fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum, natural gas and rare minerals typically found in meteorites.

Now, let us look at the major differences between renewable and non-renewable resources.

Differences between Renewable and Non-renewable Resources

The following are the major differences between renewable and non-renewable resources.

Renewable Resources Non-renewable Resources
Renewable resources cannot be depleted over time. Non-renewable resources deplete over time.
Renewable resources include sunlight, water, wind and also geothermal sources such as hot springs and fumaroles. Non-renewable resources includes fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.
Environmental Impact
Most renewable resources have low carbon emissions and low carbon footprint. Non-renewable energy has a comparatively higher carbon footprint and carbon emissions.
The upfront cost of renewable energy is high. For instance, generating electricity using technologies running on renewable energy is costlier than generating it with fossil fuels. Non-renewable energy has a comparatively lower upfront cost.
Infrastructure Requirements
Infrastructure for harvesting renewable energy is prohibitively expensive and not easily accessible in most countries. Cost-effective and accessible infrastructure is available for non-renewable energy across most countries.
Area Requirements
Requires a large land/ offshore area, especially for wind farms and solar farms. Comparatively lower area requirements.

Interestingly, some resources, such as uranium, is touted as a renewable resource. However, it is still a subject of debate as uranium is not exactly a renewable resource, according to many statutory definitions.

For more details about the different sources of renewable and non-renewable resources, register with BYJU’S.

Also Read: Resources on Earth

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