Renewable energy is being talked about more than ever thanks to its ability to decrease the effects of climate change. Many people, though, aren’t entirely certain about what makes it so special compared to nonrenewable, traditional forms of energy. While both can power your car, house, and other devices, making the switch to renewable energy can have lasting impacts on the environment, your neighbors, and the future of our planet. Here are some important differences between renewable and nonrenewable energy to keep in mind when choosing your home energy sources.
Location, Location, Location
Renewable resources consist of solar, wind, water, and geothermal energy, along with biofuels. The majority of these resources are found naturally in the environment, with little extra effort needed to secure them for use as power sources. Nonrenewable resources, meanwhile, include coal, mineral and metal ores, crude oil, and nuclear energy. These elements must be harvested through fracking, drilling, mining, and other invasive techniques. While renewable energy can be harnessed with limited damage to the environment – if any – the location of nonrenewable resources deep below the Earth’s surface means that the techniques to procure them are more damaging to the environment.
What’s in a Name?
As their titles suggest, one of the biggest differences between nonrenewable and renewable resources is their availability. Renewable resources are replaced naturally and frequently. The sun rises each day, the wind blows on a relatively consistent basis, and the Earth’s heat is always there. This makes renewable energy easily accessible, even in remote areas to which it would be difficult to send oil and gas. Nonrenewable resources, meanwhile, occur naturally but cannot be replaced within our lifetimes. In time, humans will run out of these resources and be forced to use alternate forms of energy, such as renewables.
The Price is Right
In addition to its abundance, renewable energy is even more accessible because of its cost. Unlike nonrenewable resources, most renewable sources of energy do not need to be refined or processed. Once a generator is installed, homes and businesses can receive an endless supply of energy. Recent developments in solar and wind technology have allowed the costs of these generators to decline, and the price savings are often passed on to consumers. The cost to manufacture and use renewable energy is therefore lower than that of nonrenewable energy, which must be mined, refined, shipped around the world, sold to distributors, and then sold to consumers. Each of these additional steps causes the price of energy to rise higher and higher.
Renewable energy creates little to no emissions. When you use solar, wind, water, or other forms of renewable power, your generator system may produce water, air, and little else as a result. Nonrenewable resources typically release greenhouse gasses, which increase the atmosphere’s temperature, and can often pollute waterways and other important parts of the environment. By switching to renewable resources, you can help prevent these harmful changes in the world around you. Keeping more habitats and natural areas intact means that plants and animals will have the chance to flourish, promoting the biodiversity needed to maintain a healthy ecosystem and prevent the extinction of other valuable resources, such as food sources.
Making Healthy Choices
These emissions can have a serious impact on humans as well. Because renewable energy sources do not create emissions, it does not damage the quality of the air. For people who are sensitive to smoke, chemicals, and other irritants, the widespread use of renewable energy can make it easier for them to enjoy being outdoors and otherwise functioning in their daily lives. Nonrenewable energy sources are infamous for spewing pollutants that bring the air quality down to dangerous levels even for people without respiratory sensitivities, making renewable energy a step in the right direction for the safety of all people. As more cities adopt renewable energy initiatives, they can reverse this damage and create cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Choosing Renewable Energy
When possible, choose renewable energy in your daily life. This can be as simple as calling your power company to ask about renewable energy options for your electricity or as large a commitment as purchasing an electric vehicle for your next car. Each time you make a choice like this, you contribute to a more sustainable future. Renewable energy usage limits the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which in turn decreases the impact of climate change. Moving away from nonrenewable resources also helps protect the environment by leaving habitats intact and allowing plants and animals to thrive. With renewable energy, you can contribute to positive, lasting effects on the future of our planet while saving yourself some money and creating a healthier planet for you, your neighbors, and the natural resources on which humans depend for survival.