Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Sources Quiz

Do you know the difference between renewable and non-renewable fuels?

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Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Sources

Our modern society needs energy and lots of it. Usually, we use energy in the form of electrical energy, but the energy needs to first be harnessed from the environment in some way before it can be useful for human activities. Like gravitational potential energy which is transferred into kinetic energy and used to power turbines when water from a dam is released at a hydroelectric power station.

Some sources of energy we have exploited for thousands of years such as the power of water and wind which we used to mill grain. These sources of energy are known as renewable as they are replenished on human timescales.

Other sources of energy such as fossil fuels are considered to be non-renewable as they are replenished at geological timescales, meaning hundreds of millions of years. The majority of the coal that can be found on Earth is actually from ancient forests that existed across the globe. This was during the Carboniferous period which ended around 300 million years ago. Most of our energy in the modern-day comes from thermal power plants that heat water to create steam which turns a turbine and generates electricity. Thermal energy is transferred through conduction, convection and radiation.

Nuclear energy, in particular nuclear fission, is also considered to be non-renewable because the nuclear fuels that are used have a finite supply and will one day run out if we continue to exploit them, this issue is an example of a disadvantage of non-renewable energy sources. An alternative is nuclear fusion which uses isotopes of hydrogen as fuel and is almost limitless since all we need is water to create the fuel.

Unfortunately, the technology needed to exploit nuclear fusion has been much more difficult to develop than first expected and the saying goes that “nuclear fusion will always be 30 years away”. Renewable energy resources are increasing as a percentage of global energy usage because they are gradually becoming cheaper. Moreover, the negative associations of fossil fuels are driving cleaner and non-polluting alternatives such as solar power. 

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