Distinguishing Renewable from Nonrenewable Energy Sources

Solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind technologies all operate without producing carbon emissions. They are called renewable or inexhaustible energy supplies because they are endlessly replenished by nature, like water flowing in a river.

By contrast, fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas were created over

TABLE 16.2. Renewable Energy Resources and the Services They Provide

Resource Energy Service

Resource Energy Service

TABLE 16.2. Renewable Energy Resources and the Services They Provide

Biomass

Electricity

Gaseous fuels for heat, power, and transportation

Liquid fuels, primarily for transportation

Solid fuels for heat and power, or combined heat and power

Geothermal

Combined heat and power

Electricity

Heat

Hydropower

Electricity

Mechanical power

Electricity storage

Solar energy

Electricity

Lighting

Process heat

Space conditioning (heating and cooling)

Waste detoxification

Water heating

Wind

Electricity

Mechanical power

millions of years and exist in fixed quantities. We consume their stock, not their perennial flow, so the more we use, the less remains. Therefore, fossil fuels are neither renewable nor sustainable. High-grade economically exploitable deposits of these fuels will one day be exhausted. A sustainable economy therefore must rely primarily on renewable energy sources (Tables 16.2—16.6). Conventional nuclear power based on atomic fission is not renewable.4

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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