What is a non renewable energy source? A natural resource that cannot be grown, produced, or utilized at the same time as it is consumed is considered non renewable.
Think of these types of energy sources as finite rather than infinite. What are these energy sources?
Coal, natural gas, oil or petroleum, oil shale, nuclear power, and tar sands are non renewable sources of energy that we utilize to power our factories, schools, businesses, and homes throughout 85% of the world.
These are the four main sources of non renewable energy in today's world. Our challenge for the future is to transition away from these types of energy in order to create a more renewable and sustainable world that allows the Earth AND our children and grandchildren to flourish.
The coal in mines across the world might last another 200 years or so before it is depleted. There are two types of coal used for energy: lignite and bituminous. It must be mined from deep within the earth. Coal is primarily used for generating power because it's inexpensive. In rural areas of the world, coal is used to heat homes and cook food.
Natural gas, which is primarily methane, is the result of decayed plants and animals trapped within layers of rock under pressure and hot temperatures. Natural gas is a by-product of oil. It's used for heating homes and commercial buildings. It's also used to produce items we use every day such as clothing, paint, paper, glass, antifreeze, and even some medicines.
Oil is extracted from rock under the earth's surface. It's used to produce fuels such as gasoline for our vehicles, fuel for jets and airplanes, diesel fuel, and oil for heating purposes. Oil is also used to produce other products such as plastic, industrial strength chemicals and the asphalt for our roads.
Nuclear power accounts for roughly 1/5th of the power generated in the United States. This non renewable energy source used uranium for fueling the nuclear reaction, which in turn produces power for commercial applications. Uranium is mined from rock and then turned into very small ceramic pellets, roughly the size of the tip of your finger. Several of these uranium pellets are stacked together within fuel rods, which make fuel assemblies. These assemblies are what you would find within the reactor core of a nuclear power plant. The heat inside the reactor generates steam, which produces electricity.
Oil shale and tar sands are not utilized as energy sources on the same scale as the other fossil fuels, but if and when the oil resources are depleted, these two non renewable sources of energy may be tapped as additional resources.
Non renewable energy sources may be inexpensive compared to renewable energy sources, but they will come to an end eventually because it's not possible to reproduce them in response to the demand. Renewable energy sources on the other hand are readily available and will not run out - they are renewable!
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