Define nonrenewable energy resources, and contrast them with renewable sources.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A nonrenewable resource is one that is not easily replaced in comparison to its level of consumption. Examples of nonrenewable resources are most fossil fuels such as oil, petroleum, or natural gas. These fuels are called fossil fuels because they take millions of years to undergo the decomposition process required in order to be produced. 

In comparison, renewable resources take a shorter period of time to be produced with respect to their level of consumption. Examples of renewable resources are wind energy, solar energy, timber, and biomass. Renewable resources can also refer to commodities such as wood, leather or paper. Renewable resources have the extra benefit of being alternative fuels that emit less pollution. Thus, there is a push in our society to start using more of such resources for energy. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Differentiate between renewable and nonrenewable energy.

The differences between renewable and nonrenewable energy are:

  • Renewable energy is generated from sources that are regenerated quickly. Nonrenewable energy is generated from sources that take a long time to form.
  • Renewable energy is derived from sources which are practically infinite in quantity. In comparison, nonrenewable energy resources are limited in quantity.
  • Examples of renewable types of energy include solar energy, wind energy, wave energy, and geothermal energy, among others. Examples of nonrenewable energy include the energy derived from coal, petroleum and natural gas. 
  • Renewable energy does not generate direct emissions, unlike non-renewable energy. Thus, renewable energy does not contribute to global warming and climate change.
  • Renewable energy is a relatively new development and is being emphasized a lot in recent times. Nonrenewable energy has been around for some time now and has helped the industrial revolution and development of most of the nations.

Hope this helps. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on