Renewable Vs. Non-renewable Energy Resources: Environmental and Economical Advantages and Disadvantages Imagine a life without washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, computers, televisions, lights, and cars. Imagine a planet so polluted that smog is in the air so bad that one cannot see very far, lakes and streams are poisoned, and land so badly scarred from people trying to find more energy sources. One day this may be a reality if we do not do something to change how we use our energy resources.
This may be the case if society keeps using non-renewable energy resources at its current consumption rate. Our saving grace may be the development and use of using renewable energy resources. Renewable sources not only will help our planet stay clean due to little or no pollution, but may also help the economy. This paper will compare both renewable energy resources and non-renewable energy resources and attempt to show that not only are renewable energy resources better for the environment but also show that they are better for the economy. Non-renewable Energy Resources Pollution
One of the problems with non-renewable energy resources is that in order convert them into usable energy requires chemically changing whatever it is to extract the potential energy within. Non-renewable energy resources include wood, oil, gas, and coal. To extract the potential energy contained in these resources it is necessary to burn them, which gives off heat. This heat is converted into energy by using the heat to turn a turbine, which turns the generator, which creates electricity. Using gas in a vehicle the combustion of the gas and air mixture forces a piston, which turns the crankshaft.
When burning these materials, heat is generated, and there is a chemical change. This changes the composition of the material. The result of this burning is typically water vapor, ash, and carbon dioxide. Water vapor is not harmful to the environment but carbon dioxide and ash are. Carbon dioxide and ash are pollutants, which cause problems in nature. When too much ash gets in the atmosphere, it can cause smog, which in excess can limit visibility. The carbon dioxide that is produced is harmful to humans and other animals but the main problem with carbon dioxide is it increases what is known as greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gases block the sun’s light from escaping the planet. Without the escaping light, the temperature of the Earth increases. With the temperature increase, weather patterns are changed and polar ice caps can melt. Economy Converting these resources into usable energy requires money. Money is required to obtain them, to ship them, and to convert them. This conversion costs money to build the equipment for converting it, money for parts when something breaks, to maintain it, and to clean the equipment. Some parts cost a substantial amount of money to make or in some cases ship in.
As one can see, non-renewable energy resources are expensive. It is expensive to maintain the equipment, so that it operates at peak efficiency. The same goes for cleaning the equipment. When the equipment gets too dirty parts go bad more rapidly so cleaning it helps to prevent wear and tear on the parts. Once these parts get too bad they need to be replaced. Replacement parts for some equipment can be expensive. Another factor in why these sources are so expensive is that the planet is running out of these resources. Forests are cut down to provide wood.
If more trees are not planted to replace the ones we cut down, then eventually there will be no more wood for us. This is also bad because trees take the carbon dioxide out of the air and converts it into oxygen, which humans and other animals need to breathe. Oil, coal, and gas are becoming scarcer which means they are more expensive. Oil, coal, and gas are also running out. These take thousands if not more years for our planet to convert plants and animals into these resources. This means that as we use up these resources there is not much to replenish our supply.
Many companies spend much money in researching possible new locations to dig or drill to get these sources. This also costs much money to dig or drill, clean or extract these sources, and to ship them out to other companies. Renewable Energy Resources Pollution Renewable energy resources are clean because they not only come from the environment but there is no need to change chemically the source in order to get usable energy. The sun for instance gives off heat, which warms our planet. This same heat can be used to warm water pipes, which can heat a business or home.
This definitely requires no equipment to acquire this energy. The sun as a resource can also excite particles in a solar collector. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, solar collectors are various devices used in the absorption of solar radiation to heat water or produce electricity, (Dictionary and Thesauras – Marriam-Webster Online, 2007-2008). These excited particles generate electricity. There does not necessarily have to be direct sunlight, for this process. Even on a cloudy day, energy can be produced though lower than on a sunny day.
Since the sun will be here for another million to billion years from now this process can continue forever. Using the sun as an energy source means that no pollution will be generated from it being converted into usable energy. Wind power is another renewable energy source. Wind is generated from the sun heating the Earth. Humans have been harnessing the power in wind for hundreds of years. Humans have used it from pumping water to grinding grain. When wind is present, the force of the wind forms a pocket of low pressure on the downside of the blade, which pulls the blade towards it.
This turns a shaft or rotor, which will turn the turbine. The turbine turns the generator to create electricity. Nothing here is chemically changed, which means no pollution is created. This is also true for waterpower. A good example of waterpower is Hoover Dam. Dams are found all over the world but not all are used for the production of electricity. Some are used for water storage, flood control, and irrigation. There is plenty potential power in the water of Lake Mead behind the dam. Once this energy is released, gravity sends the water down giant pipes to the turbines.
The turbines turn the generators, which create electricity. Another energy source is geothermal. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, geothermal uses the heat from the Earth’s interior, (Dictionary and Thesauras – Marriam-Webster Online, 2007-2008). This heat from the Earth can warm business or houses and when converted produce electricity. A hole is dug to a certain depth-and pipes are installed down this hole. Water or some other liquid is pumped through the pipes. The heat from the Earth is transferred to the liquid, which is pumped back to the surface.
This heated liquid can then be sent through the heating system of the building. The heated liquid when steamed turns a turbine that turns the generator, which produces electricity. Nothing is chemically changed to generate this heat or electricity, which means no pollution. (Flower, 2007,) “As an added bonus, two to five tons of carbon dioxide are eliminated annually by installing a geothermal system in a 2,500 square-foot home. ” Economy Renewable energy resources although initially expensive in the long run will be cheaper.
Solar heating and solar panels cost money to build but once in operation there is little maintenance required, does not need to be cleaned to operate efficiently, and parts will not go bad often. Using solar energy for power can also generate some profit. What power is not used during the day can be sold to the power company. This means extra income for the business or homeowner. Wind and waterpower will not need much cleaning though parts may need replacement and some maintenance may be required. (Flower, 2007,) “Using the earth to temper your indoor climate will save 35 to 70 percent on your heating bills.
With this rate of payback, the additional cost of installing a residential geothermal system—installations often run between $10,000 and $20,000—will be recovered in four to seven years. ” Geothermal energy will not need much cleaning, maintenance, and some replacement parts. Any electricity that is not used in the use of these systems can be sold to make a profit like the solar energy mentioned above. Use of these systems can mean more money for the business or average person. This in turn can be used to buy other needs for that business or individual.
The following chart shows approximately the remaining amount of non-renewable and renewable energy resources at fifty-year intervals based upon the year 2000 as the point of origin. The data was taken from Khalil, Tarek M. (1981). Based on this information coal and fission will eventually become depleted. Geothermal, although considered a renewable resource, will eventually become depleted too. Solar, wind power, waterpower, and tidal power will continue to renew itself for many years. Conclusion From what was learned above non-renewable energy, resources are more expensive than renewable energy resources.
They also are a threat to the environment by causing pollution to be put on the earth and in our atmosphere. If the human race continues to use non-renewable energy resources, we will one day run out of them. In addition, pollution may become so bad that humans and animals will have to adapt to the new environment that humans helped to create. The future is in the hands of the human race and if we want to see this planet continue to harbor life then something needs to be done. Clean breathable air or smog filled cities with people coughing all the time because of the pollution.
The future is renewable resources for both our environment’s sake and for the economy. References Dictionary and Thesauras – Marriam-Webster Online. (2007-2008). Marriam-Webster online. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from http://www. merriam-webster. com/ Flower, Gillian. (2007). Deep heating. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition, 292 (), 102-103. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from EBSCOhost database. Here comes the sun. (2005). OECD Observer, 248(), 44-44. Retrieved February 24, 2008 from EBSCOhost database. Ingersoll, Eric. (2008). Clean and profitable.
Power Engineering, 112 (1), 12. Retrieved March 9, 2008, from EBSCOhost database. Khalil, Tarek M. (1981). Comparative analysis of energy resources. International Journal of Production Research, 19 (4), 401. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from EBSCOhost database. Steam and surf in the far north. (2007). Economist, 385(8550), 34. Retrieved March 9, 2008, from EBSCOhost database. Wolcott, Barbara. (2004). Interest in alternative energy has had its ups and downs since the 1970s. Planning, 70 (11), 4-7. Retrieved March 9, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.