Ever before the emergence of the digital economy like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, social media marketing, and search engine optimization, Non-renewable energy powered the world’s major economies.
Non-renewable energy is a source of energy that will eventually run out. Most sources of non-renewable energy are fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, and oil.
These natural resources are a major source of power for a vast amount of industries – however, there are numerous downsides to non-renewable energy, including their negative environmental impact and the fact they are in limited supply.
Coal comes from the remains of plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago. It has the highest level of carbon of all fossil fuels.
Oil – also known as petroleum – can be extracted and refined in order to make products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
Natural gas was formed from the remains of tiny sea plants and animals that died millions of years ago. It is mainly composed of methane.
Nuclear energy is released when atoms’ nuclei are fused together (fusion) or split apart (fission). Nuclear power plants produce electricity through nuclear fission.
Ups and Downs of Non-Renewable Energy
What’s good about non-renewable energy sources?
- Lots available: Humans have invested a lot of time, effort, and money into obtaining fossil fuels, so we now have a ready supply.
- Easier to find: Fossil fuels can be found all over the world, with many areas already identified as being rich in these resources.
- Very efficient: Fossil fuels can generate a lot of energy, even from just a small amount of fuel.
- Simpler to transport: Fossil fuels can be easily transported, e.g. using underground pipes to move oil and gas.
- Easy set-up: A fossil fuel plant can be set up at any location, as long as there is a large quantity of fuel to generate power.
What’s (really) bad about non-renewable energy sources?
- Environmental pollution: Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, which is directly linked to global warming – so fossil fuels are very damaging to the health of our planet when not managed.
- Huge amounts of fuel reserves: To keep power stations working, you need truckloads of fuel. This can make energy generation very expensive.
- They will run out: Once the earth’s supplies of fossil fuels have been used up, they can’t be renewed (at least not for several hundred million years), so we won’t be able to use them for our rising power needs.