Alternative energy sources are a frequent topic of discussion in the modern world, with debates over costs, efficiency and environmental impact. Trying to sort through scientific jargon and political bluster can make it hard to understand exactly what is meant by renewable and non-renewable energy, and their relative impacts.
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy does not deplete its original source. For instance, solar relies on virtually limitless supplies of sunlight, which is why many people seek out solar panel installation in Portishead. Other forms of renewable energy include wind, geothermal and hydropower, all based on naturally regenerating resources.
What is non-renewable energy?
As the name suggests, once you have used up fuel generating non-renewable energy, it is gone and cannot be replaced. The most dominant forms of non-renewable energy are fossil fuels, specifically coal, oil and gas. These are the remains of ancient creatures, pressed and broken down over aeons, which are burned to produce energy. Nuclear energy is also non-renewable.
What are the benefits and disadvantages?
There is increasing recognition that renewable energy has advantages over non-renewable forms. It does not contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and therefore does not contribute to climate change. It is better for air quality as it does not release the same pollutants. Its infinite supply stands in contrast to the inherently limited reserves of fossil fuels, which will one day run out completely. That is why solar panel installation Portishead is increasing in popularity.
This does not mean that all renewables are equal. For instance, biomass involves burning wood and other materials that can release their own contaminants. The accessibility of wind and solar depends on the weather, whilst geothermal is more practical in highly volcanic countries such as Iceland. This is part of why the shift away from fossil fuels is proving difficult.
Every form of energy has its own advantages and disadvantages, but it is generally recognised that a move from fossil fuels towards more renewable sources will preserve health, the environment and our climate. Even then, some renewables are more efficient than others.