What Is The Difference Between Renewable And Non-Renewable Resources

What Is The Difference Between Renewable And Non-Renewable Resources

What exactly are renewable and nonrenewable resources? Although many people love to talk about these resources, they don’t take the time to explain them.

If you finally want to understand the differences between renewable energy and nonrenewable energy resources, read on. This article gives a comprehensive overview of the two terms, explains how they relate to climate change, and discusses new technologies.


What is renewable and non-renewable?

Though there are nine major areas of energy, they fall into two categories: renewables and nonrenewables.


Simply put, a renewable resource means we have infinite access to it. It constantly replenishes itself and comes from natural elements, like plants, sun, wind, and water.

No matter how much humans use renewable energy, there will always be more. As a result, we don’t have to worry about renewable resources running out soon.

Often, renewables are viewed as alternative energy sources, but they generate electricity and have a smaller carbon footprint.


Conversely, nonrenewable resources do not replenish themselves and have a limited supply. Therefore, once the resource is used, you cannot use it again.

Most often, nonrenewable resources refer to fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels take millions of years to create and do not provide an infinite or sustainable answer to human energy usage.

Some of the most common fossil fuels include natural gas, coal nuclear energy. But, unfortunately, you can only use them for relatively short periods before they are gone.

solar energy

What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources?

Now that we know exactly what a renewable and nonrenewable resource is let’s look at their differences. The three most important differences between these two resource types include production, the amount available, and environmental footprint.

How it is produced

Something we touched on above is how renewable and nonrenewable resources are produced.

On the one hand, renewable resources use natural resources to produce usable energy and electricity. But, on the other hand, it does not take thousands or millions of years to produce but instead is constantly produced because of the nature of our world.

On the other hand, nonrenewable resources rely on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel includes materials like oil and gas.

Fossil fuel originally comes from natural resources too, but they require a long time to form since they need a hyper-pressurized environment to become a form of usable energy.

crude oil drilling

Amount available

Because of the way renewable and non-renewable resources are produced, the amount available differs between them.

Importantly, renewable resources come with an infinite amount. Since they are constantly replenished, we will never run out of renewable resources, no matter how much energy we consume.

Nonrenewable energy only has a finite amount. So as soon as we use up all of our resources, they will be gone.

The fact that nonrenewable energy sources only have a finite amount is actually straightforward to understand. Take the natural gas you put in your car as an example.

As soon as you fill up your gas tank, your car is ready to roll. However, your car will stop functioning and moving once it runs out of gas, and you will have to fill up the tank once again.

Gas usage in your vehicle is just a small example. You can apply this example to the bigger scale, such as the entire gas collection: once all of the gas is gone, it is actually gone.

Environmental and carbon footprint

Renewable energy and nonrenewable energy are discussed in global warming because the two resources have very different environmental footprints.

Renewable sources lead to clean energy, making them better for future generations. You don’t have to burn any materials and send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to use clean energy.

The same cannot be said of nonrenewable energy sources. Gas and oil must be burned, which attributes to climate change. That does not even include oil spills, pollution, and other more tangible side effects.

Hence, the environmental impact of nonrenewable is much worse than renewables.

coal mining

What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources with examples?

If you are still confused about the differences between renewable and nonrenewable energy, let’s look at a few examples. Examples can help clarify any remaining questions or confusion you may have about the topic.

Renewable energy resources example

There are tons of renewable resources available that replenish naturally. Major renewable energy resources include the following:

The easiest to understand is solar power. New technology produces electricity through sunlight, which is replenished naturally.

Since the sun shines every day, solar energy is constantly replenished. So no matter how many solar panels are created and used on the planet, the sun will always produce energy to use.

Of course, it is thanks to technology that we can turn solar power into usable energy.

As you know, putting your phone on the ground outside will not cause it to charge. However, you can add a solar system to your home that converts that energy into usable energy that you can use to charge your phone.

The other renewable resources work in the same way. For example, wind energy production is created by wind turbines!

natural gas flaring

Nonrenewable energy resources example

Let’s look at non-renewable resources, which are only available in limited supplies. Some examples of non-renewable energy include:

  • Coal
  • Crude oil
  • Natural gas
  • Nuclear energy

Although the gas example above does a great job of demonstrating this form of energy, let’s look at a bigger picture example using coal. Keep in mind that coal applies to natural gas, crude oil, and other fossil fuel.

wind energy

Big picture example

Although few people burn coal in their houses, it is still considered a widespread form of energy. So even if you have never seen coal yourself, you probably have an accurate understanding of how it works.

Coal is burned to produce usable energy. Once the resource has been burned, more has to be shovelled into the furnace to keep the energy going.

Let’s consider this on a larger scale. Just as one chunk of coal is not renewable, neither is the entire world’s coal collection.

As the world continues to use coal to fund usable electricity, that coal amount decreases day by day. Eventually, there will be no coal left since there are only fixed amounts.

The other forms of non-renewable energy work the same way, but they all have different reduction rates. Nuclear energy, for example, can support much more energy and lasts longer than the other forms, but it is still nonrenewable.

What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources class 8?

To know the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources class 8, you need to know that renewable resources are constantly renewed, whereas nonrenewable energy is not.

Furthermore, know which resources classify as renewable and which classify as nonrenewable. You can use our lists above for help.

For example, wind technologies classify as renewable, whereas oil does not!


In short, renewable energy is produced by the universe and is constantly replenished. However, nonrenewable resources take longer to create, which means there is only a finite amount available.

Though switching to more renewable energy sources will not save the climate crisis, its growing popularity may eventually cause big corporations to take a more sustainable approach.

Hopefully, human society and human activity will think more about the environment and plants to save the best resource of all – our home planet.

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