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Renewable resources and non-renewable resources, Practice Problems and FAQs

Nowadays, all the cities and most of the rural areas have electricity. Electricity is an essential energy source which we cannot live without. Just imagine a day in your home without electricity! Even the thought of it gives us shudders, doesn’t it? We will have to grind spices without a mixer grinder, use our hands to fill the water tank instead of using the water pump, we won’t be able to iron our clothes, and the most stressful part would be to not be able to charge our cell phones and laptops once their batteries are discharged. So it will affect everything from the food we eat to the communication devices which we use to do work. Thus, a day without electricity will be hectic for us because we have been dependent on electricity for a very long time now.

Do you know how we get electricity? There are many sources to produce electricity. Some of the sources are naturally available. They are water, sunlight, wind etc. The dams, windmills and solar panels are the technologies which can convert the natural resources into electricity. Not only these, there are some other natural resources which give us some other form of energy which we use in our daily life. One example is the gas cylinder in our home which we use to cook. We call it LPG or liquified petroleum gas. Do you know how we get it? The main component of LPG is propane, which is obtained by mining the fossil fuels.

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Fig: Cooking with LPG

All these technologies are new methods of producing energy. What was the source of energies which was used by the man of olden ages? The major source was fire. Right?

Fig: Ancient people cooking in fire

When the IQ level of humans developed, the technologies also developed and the usage of all these resources increased. We have been using all the natural resources since ages. What if there comes a day when all the resources get utilised and nothing is left? Living in such times will be a nightmare as most of the technologies around us are powered by these natural resources.

Do you think we might face a situation like that in future? It may happen, if we don't use the resources wisely. This is because there are some natural resources which cannot be replenished. Although there are also some natural resources which can be replenished. These resources are called non-renewable resources and renewable resources respectively. Do you want to know more about these resources? Let’s discuss it in this article.

Table of contents:

Natural resources

The resources that are available in the environment and develop independent of human interference are called natural resources. They are used to support life and meet human needs. The major natural resources which we can not live without are air, water, sunlight and soil. Some other examples of natural resources are coal, natural gas, oil, gas, metals, stone etc. We can even consider animals, birds and plants as natural resources too.

Natural resources are the raw materials for every product we use in our daily life. We use natural resources for food, fuel, furniture etc. All the natural resources are used with some modifications and those raw materials are considered as valuable in their natural form. The primary activities to obtain natural resources are extraction and purification.

Natural resources can be used directly by humans or it can be processed and used. According to the renewability of the resources there are two types of natural resources. They are as follows:

  • Renewable resources
  • Nonrenewable resources

Both the environment and humans benefit equally from these resources. Let’s discuss more about this.

Renewable resources

The resources that are responsible for the production of renewable energy are called renewable resources. They can be replenished at the same rate at which they are used. They are natural resources like solar energy, wind energy, water, biomass, geothermal etc. These resources are available continuously and not affected noticeably by the consumption of humans. But these resources can be depleted if we are not conserving or managing them properly. Renewable resources can be easily replenished when compared to the non renewable resources.

Types of renewable resources

Now we are going to discuss some of the different types of renewable resources and they are as follows:

  • Solar energy
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Hydropower
  • Bioenergy

Solar energy

The energy obtained from the sun is called solar energy. This can be captured to generate heat or electricity. This is done with the help of solar panels or mirrors. Solar panels are composed of solar cells and they can convert sunlight directly into electricity. This heat absorption panel is used by the solar thermal collectors for generating electricity. Solar panels can be fixed in houses or in public places. Solar cookers, solar energy driven street lights are some examples of the uses of solar energy in daily life.

Fig: Solar panel providing energy to various sources

Wind

Wind energy is the energy obtained from wind. It is used to generate electricity through wind turbines. It has only a smaller impact on the environment. Windmills have blades that can convert the energy carried by wind into rotational energy in the turbines of the AC generator which can further be converted into electrical energy.

Fig: Wind mill

Geothermal

The energy obtained from the thermal energy which is stored inside the earth is called geothermal energy. This energy originated by the formation of planet Earth and radioactive decay of materials. Electricity is generated from geothermal energy. This resource is more than adequate to supply the needs of humans.

Fig: Geothermal power plant

Hydropower

The energy which is generated from the kinetic energy of flowing water is called hydropower or water power. The falling of water or fast running water is used to generate electricity or to power machines. Here the gravitational potential or kinetic energy of water is converted into electrical energy. The energy generated is called hydroelectric power. Energy can be generated from ocean tides and it is known as tidal energy and wave energy is generated from the waves of the ocean surface. Dams are built to generate power by altering the natural flow of rivers or other water bodies.

Fig: Dam

Bioenergy

The waste of animals and plants are used for making bioenergy. Chemical energy is present in the biomass of animals and plants. When it is burnt then it can produce bioenergy. The heat generated is used to produce electricity and also to run generators. The combustion of wood and animal waste is considered a traditional use of bioenergy. Biogas produced through anaerobic digestion of residues and bio-refineries is an example of modern bioenergy technology.

Fig: Biogas plant

Advantages of renewable resources

There are many advantages of using renewable resources for production of energy. Some of them are as follows:

  • The energy obtained from renewable resources is inexhaustible.
  • The renewable resources do not emit any greenhouse gases while generating energy, hence there is less pollution.
  • The renewable resources can be easily regenerated.
  • These are unlimited resources.
  • Very less carbon dioxide is emitted from renewable resources.
  • Renewable resources are easily available and obtained from the same nation. Hence no need to get it from other countries.
  • It has a very low maintenance cost.

Disadvantages of renewable resources

Along with all the above advantages of the renewable resources, there are some disadvantages too. They are as follows:

  • Due to feasibility constraints the renewable energy plant is difficult to set up.
  • Solar energy can be used only during day time and not at night.
  • Weather conditions can affect the availability of renewable resources.
  • Renewable energy has less efficiency.
  • The initial cost is very high for renewable energy.
  • A lot of space is required for the harnessing of renewable energy.
  • Recycling of renewable energy devices is needed.

Non renewable resources

The natural resources that are formed over a long period of time in the environment and are impossible to renew easily are called non renewable resources. These resources can be depleted more quickly than they can be regenerated. The most common non-renewable resource is minerals. Oils and natural gases are obtained from fossil fuels which is also a nonrenewable resource and the time period which they take to generate is over millions of years. Hence, once we mine these resources and use them, then they can not be replenished. Some other examples of non-renewable resources are coal, compressed natural gas or CNG, uranium, gold, other rare earth elements etc.

Most of the non-renewable resources are present in limited quantities, since they take a long time to form. Non renewable resources are depleted mainly by the use of humans, but they can also be depleted naturally. One of the examples for this is the natural decay of radioactive elements such as uranium.

Types of non-renewable resources

Non renewable energy resources can be classified broadly into two types. These are as follows:

  • Fossil fuels
  • Nuclear energy

Fossil fuels

The fuels formed as a result of the continuous heating and compressing of organic matter under the earth's surface are called fossil fuels. The fossil remains of animals and plants are the major organic matters that make the fossil fuel. The fuel can be mined or drilled in the form of solid, liquid or gas. Examples of fossil fuels are as follows:

  • Crude oil
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
Crude oil

The only liquid non-renewable resource that can be extracted from the layers of earth crust is called crude oil. It is also called petroleum oil. It can also be found in between the rocks. A vertical well into the ground and ocean floor is drilled to get the crude oil. Gasoline and diesel which powers the motor vehicles are obtained from crude oil. It is used up more quickly and very less oil fields are now available, hence scientists predict that this resource may not last beyond the middle of the 21st century.

Fig: Crude oil terminal

Natural gas

The gaseous non-renewable resource found below the earth crust is called natural gas. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. It also contains other forms such as propane, ethane and butane. The odourless methane is mixed with a special additive to give an odour. This will help to find the leakage. Propane and butane are removed in the processing plants and this is used as liquefied petroleum gas or LPG. The major uses of natural gas are cooking, heating homes etc.

Fig: LPG

Coal

The compressed organic matter which contains carbon and hydrocarbon matter are called coal. It is formed by taking millions of years, when the plant filled swamps that are covered by sediments. The solid coal is dug from the soil and processed to form the energy. Anthracite, lignite, bituminous coal etc are some examples of coal. Bituminous coal is used for making steel and iron. Anthracite has the highest heating value. Heating value is the amount of heat released during combustion of a specific amount.

Fig: Coal

Nuclear energy

The non-renewable energy obtained from the mining and refining of uranium ore is known as nuclear energy. Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive element below the surface of the earth. Nuclear fusion is the process by which the power is generated. This power has enough pressure to run turbines and generate nuclear power. Nuclear power is providing 13 to 14 percent of world electricity and six percent of the total energy.

Fig: Nuclear power plant

Advantages of non-renewable resources

There are many advantages for the renewable energy resources as follows:

  • The non-renewable energy resources like diesel and oil are affordable.
  • These resources are easily accessible and compatible and are abundant.
  • The storage of non-renewable resources is easy.
  • It can provide more energy when compared with renewable resources.
  • The rate of profit generated in mining and selling of coal is more.

Disadvantages of non-renewable resources

There are also some disadvantages for non-renewable resources. They are as follows:

  • The replacement of energy resources is not possible, once it is used up.
  • It increases greenhouse gases and leads to global warming.
  • The burning of fossil fuels will cause different types of pollution.
  • The process of mining, searching for oil, installing oil drills etc are time consuming and need more manpower.
  • The carbon monoxide emitted by fossil fuels can cause respiratory diseases in humans.
  • The oil spilled by the cargo ships in the sea can affect the life of sea animals adversely.
  • More space is needed for the setting up of the reservoirs for the non-renewable energy.

Difference between renewable and non-renewable resources

We have discussed many things about renewable energy resources and non-renewable energy resources. So now we will see what are the major differences between renewable and non-renewable resources.

Renewable resources

Non-renewable resources

It can not be changed over time

It will deplete with time

It releases only less carbon

It releases more carbon

Cost is very high

Cost is very low

Infrastructure is expensive and not easily formed in most countries

Infrastructure is cost-effective

Require a large area for resources

Require large area for storing energy

Examples: Sun, water, wind etc

Examples: Fossil fuels and nuclear energy

Practice Problems

Q1. Which of the following statements are true about renewable resources?

i) The resources that are responsible for the production of renewable energy are called renewable resources.
ii) These resources are not available continuously.
iii)Renewable resources can be easily replenished when compared to the non renewable resources.
iv) Solar energy, wind energy, bioenergy, nuclear energy etc are examples of renewable energy.

a. i, ii, iii, iv
b. i, iii, iv
c. i and iii
d. i and iv

Solution: The resources that are responsible for the production of renewable energy are called renewable resources. They can be replenished at the same rate at which they are used. They are natural resources like solar energy, wind energy, water, biomass, geothermal etc. These resources are available continuously and not affected noticeably by the consumption of humans. But it can be depleted if we are not conserving or managing it properly. Renewable resources can be easily replenished when compared to the non renewable resources. There are different types of renewable resources and they are solar energy, wind, geothermal, hydropower and bioenergy. The non-renewable energy obtained from the mining and refining of uranium ore is known as nuclear energy. Hence the correct option is c.

Q2. Assertion: Fossil fuels are not easily replenished.

Reason: Fossil fuels are formed over a million of years.

Which of the following statements are correct about the given assertion and reason?

A. Both assertion and reason are correct and reason is the correct explanation of assertion.
B. Both assertion and reason are correct and reason is not the correct explanation of assertion.
C. The assertion is true, but the reason is false.
D. Both assertion and reason are false.

Solution: The resources that are available in the environment and are developed independently by humans are called natural resources. Natural resources can be used directly by humans or it can be processed and used. According to the renewability of the resources there are two types of natural resources. They are renewable resources and non-renewable resources. The resources that are responsible for the production of renewable energy are called renewable resources. They can be replenished at the same rate at which they are used. The natural resources that formed over a long period of time in the environment and are impossible to renew easily are called non renewable resources. These resources can be depleted more quickly than they can be regenerated. The most common non-renewable resource is minerals. Oils and natural gases are obtained from fossil fuels which is a nonrenewable resource and the time period which they take to generate is over millions of years. Hence, once we mined those resources and used it, then it can not be replenished. Most of the non-renewable resources are present in limited quantities, since they take a long time to form. So here the assertion is correct and the reason is also correct. The reason is the correct explanation of the assertion. Hence the correct option is a.

Q3. Which of the following renewable resources are used for the production of biogas?

a. Geothermal energy
b. Tidal energy
c. Solar energy
d. Bioenergy

Solution: The resources that are responsible for the production of renewable energy are called renewable resources. They can be replenished at the same rate at which they are used. They are natural resources like solar energy, wind energy, water, biomass, geothermal etc. The waste of animals and plants are used for making bioenergy. Chemical energy is present in the biomass of animals and plants. When it is burnt then it can produce bioenergy. The heat generated is used to produce electricity and also to run generators. The combustion of wood and animal waste is considered a traditional use of bioenergy. Biogas produced through anaerobic digestion of residues and bio-refineries are examples of modern bioenergy technologies. Hence the correct option is d.

Q4. What are the advantages of non-renewable energy resources?
Answer: The natural resources that formed over a long period of time in the environment and are impossible to renew easily are called non renewable resources. These resources can be depleted more quickly than they can be regenerated. There are many advantages to renewable energy resources. They are:

  • The non-renewable energy resources like diesel and oil are affordable.
  • These resources are easily accessible and compatible and are abundant.
  • The storage of non-renewable resources is easy.
  • It can provide more energy when compared with renewable resources.
  • The rate of profit generated in mining and selling of coal is more.

FAQs

Q1. In which country can we find the least amount of natural resources?
Answer:
The county which has the least amount of natural resources is Vatican city. It has almost no natural resources. The total lack of coal reserves in the country is a problem. There are also no natural gas reserves.

Q2. Which is the richest natural resource in India?
Answer:
Abundant mineral deposits are present in India and it produces over 95 different types of minerals. India is the second largest producer of steel. India also has the third position in the production of coal, fifth position in the production of iron and the country is also the fifth largest bauxite reserves in the world.

Q3. Which country has the highest mining of gold?
Answer:
The number one producer of gold in the world is China. According to the estimation of USGS, China mined 455 metric tons of gold in the year of 2016.

Q4. Among the natural resources, which is the cheapest energy?
Answer:
According to the International Agency solar power is the cheapest electric in history. The technology of capturing solar energy and converting it into electricity is cheaper than coal and gas in most countries. It has a very low maintenance cost.

 

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