Renewable energy vs Non renewable energy resources

Difference Between Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Resources

Renewable Energy VS Non-renewable Energy Resources.

Energy resources are either renewable or non-renewable. They occur in nature and are different in many ways but similar in some other ways.

In this post, you will learn about:

  • What energy resources are
  • How renewable and non-renewable resources are different
  • The similarities between renewable and non-renewable resources

Let’s first have a look at what energy resources are, shall we?

What are Energy resources

Energy Resources are sources that produce various forms of energy for generating electricity, heating and so on. They can be renewable or non-renewable. Examples are nuclear, solar, Wind, fossils, hydro, biomass, etc.

How Is Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Resources Different?

There are various ways renewable and non-renewable energy resources are different, and it obviously shows in their definitions.


Renewable energy resource is a source of energy which produces energy that can easily be replenished naturally and timely, after use. They mostly occur in nature and are the non-conventional sources of energy.

A non-renewable resource is a source of energy that can get depleted with time and can only be replenished after a very long period of time (in millions of years). They are mostly conventional sources of energy

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The difference in their examples?


Examples of Renewable energy resources are: solar (sunlight), biomass, wind, geothermal, air, hydro (water), wood, etc.

Examples of Non-renewable resources are coal, natural gas, nuclear (uranium), petroleum, etc.


Renewable energy resources do not deplete because it gets replenished as it is used. That is, its usage or demand for it is far less than its supply. For example, the sunlight is what we keep using every day, but day after day, it keeps shining and producing energy with no sign of ever depleting. In fact, we actually underuse it.

Non-renewable energy resources can easily get depleted, as many of them take too much time to replenish. There is some notion that in the future, Its supply would reduce. For example, It has been argued that the currently available crude oil beneath the earth’s surface would run out in the future. Also, coal is said to be limited because it takes millions of year to replenish

Environmental friendliness

Renewable energy resources are friendly to the environment as they create little or no pollution in the environment. They are also said to be carbon emission-free.

Most Non-renewable energy resources create pollution in the environment. So, it is not considered environmentally friendly. They emit lots of carbon and other greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming.

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Renewable energy resources are available in abundance and unlimited quantity. For example, the sun is always radiating energy in unlimited quantity, water occupies about 70% of the earth’s crust, the air is always blowing, and so on.

Non-renewable energy resources are in limited quantity as they do not replenish while they are been used. For example, as coal is been used, it does not renew. So, its quantity keeps reducing.


Renewable energy resources are more accessible as they are available in most (if not all) areas on the earth’s surface.

Non-renewable energy resources are less accessible as they are available only in a few areas of the earth surface.


The cost of renewable energy resources is quite lower. For example, solar energy is so cheap that it does not cost much to be used. It is available in abundance and can’t be monopolized. That is, if you need solar energy to generate electricity, the sunlight is cheaply outside there, with no extra cost. Same goes with the wind, water, and others

In comparison, the cost of Non-renewable energy resources is quite high. Like, if coal is needed to generate electricity, it will take some costly processes to get the needed coal to the power station.

Cost of maintenance

Most renewable energy resource-driven power systems require less maintenance. Thus, its maintenance cost is low

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Non-renewable energy resource-driven power system requires lots of maintenance. Thus, its maintenance cost is high.


Most renewable energy resources are inexhaustible. For example, solar is inexhaustible because it will not get depleted under any condition. It provides solar energy day after day. However, wood can be considered exhaustible because it can be exhausted under certain conditions: If it is used rigorously without more trees being planted, it will get exhausted.

Non-renewable energy resources can be exhausted. For example, petroleum will get exhausted because it does not increase but depletes as it is used.

Area required for installing power systems

For the same capacity, more space is needed to install renewable resource-driven power systems than non-renewable resource-driven power system.

This is mostly because the technology used in harnessing renewable energy resources is not as efficient as that of non-renewable resources.

For example, for the same power generation capacity, a solar power station would need a lot more space than a nuclear power station. This is because of the low efficiency of the solar panels.


Renewable energy resources are sustainable as they look to keep meeting the demand for energy in the world now and in the future. This is why renewable energy sources are forms of sustainable energy.

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Non-renewable energy resources are not sustainable because they can’t easily be replenished and at one point in the future, won’t be able to meet the world’s energy demand.

Similarities Between Renewable and Non-renewable Energy Sources.

Having talked about how renewable and renewable energy resources are different, they are also similar in some ways:

  • They are both natural resources.
  • They both have their individual advantages and disadvantages.
  • They are both beneficial to mankind.
  • They produce energy.


Energy resources are either renewable or non-renewable

Renewable and non-renewable energy resources are different in many ways but similar in some ways

The difference between renewable and non-renewable energy resources can be seen in their definition, examples, environmental friendliness, quantity, accessibility, maintenance cost, exhaustiveness, sustainability,

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What are your thoughts?