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Environmental Impact of Non-Renewable Energy

Let us discuss on the Environmental Impact of Non-Renewable Energy:

Energy is everywhere. Inside & around us. The whole world is made of energy. Without energy nothing can move. Energy is transformed form one source to another. Energy can never be created nor be destroyed. It is derived from various sources. The sources are differentiated into renewable & non- renewable resources. Renewable resources is any natural source that can replace itself quickly, sustainable and has unlimited supply. Even though it various from time and nature.

Renewable energy can be derived from solar power, wind power, biomass, geothermal and hydro power.

Non- Renewable energy cannot be replaced. Once they are used, they cannot be restored. Most sources of non renewable energy are fossil fuel such as coal, oil and natural gas and minerals. Most of the energy used in industries are non- renewable resource. They are available only in limited supply and cannot be restored or takes lots of years to restore. Non renewable resources creates great impacts over the environment that leads to global warming effects and many others.

Characteristics of non- renewable energy:

  1. Non renewable energy resources exist naturally and cannot be regenerated, once they are exploited. Their characteristics include
  2. They are available only at finite quantities.
  3. They are available in only certain countries. I.e., It is found inside earth that takes millions of years to form and so it is based on luck.
  4. They cannot be regenerated once utilized.
  5. They mostly exist in the lithosphere of the earth mainly as minerals.
  6. They can exist in solid, gas and liquid forms.
  7. In some cases, Unless subjected to recycling, their substances remain as waste material and in some cases it cannot be recycled.

Difference between renewable and non-renewable resources:

  1. Renewable resources can be used again and again through its life whereas nonrenewable resources are limited and can diminish someday.
  2. Total cost of renewable resources are less than non renewable resources.
  3. Renewable resources are pollution free and environment friendly. But non- renewable resources causes pollution and not environment friendly as the carbon emission in high.
  4. Renewable resources causes no harm to living beings whereas non renewable resources affect the health of humans by emitting smoke, radiations and other elements into the body.
  5. Sunlight, water, air are the examples of renewable resource. Coal petroleum, natural gases and minerals are the examples of non- renewable resource.
  6. The rate of renewal is higher that rate of consumption in renewable resource whereas it is vice versa for non- renewable resource.
  7. Renewable resources need large land area for installation but non renewable resource requires only less land area for installation of power plant.

Types of non renewable energy:

Non renewable energy exists in the form of fossil fuels and nuclear fuels. Fossil fuels are coal, natural gas and oil.


Coal is a fossil fuel that is formed by remains of buried plants that died millions of years ago. Layers of water, rock and dirt are formed over the dead plants. As the result, the oxygen content in the dead plant is reduced by the heat and pressure created. This leaves rich hydrocarbon deposits and finally coal is formed naturally.
Coal has the highest level of carbon emission and produces pollution in air and water that affects the green house effect and is bad for earth.

Natural gas:

Natural gas is obtained when rocks that contain gas deposits are drilled. It is the deposit of remains of animals and tiny sea plants. The sediments are formed into rocks over millions of years. Eventually, the heat and pressure changes this mixture into gas and oils. Most of the natural gas is composed of methane and some amount of propane and butane. Natural gas wells are drilled to get the natural gas deposits that are identified by geologists.  


Oils or petroleum is a fossil fuel are formed by the remains of tiny sea plants and animals that died millions of years ago. They are buried over thousands of feet of sands and sediments. The pressure and heat produces hydrocarbon. Finally wet sponge like oil saturated rocks are formed. Crude oil is the form when the oil is first removed from ground. Oil refineries separate the oil into various fuels and other by-products . Gasoline is also another important fuel that comes from oil. Refined oils can be used to make gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Nuclear energy:

Nuclear energy comes from the nucleus of atoms. The energy is released by fusing together or splitting apart. Uranium is one of the element that easily fuses and so it is used as fuel in power plants. Uranium is found all over the world but is still a non renewable resource. It is obtained naturally in certain types of rock. The nuclear power plants produce electricity by using nuclear fission. The major hazard for the environment is the radioactive waste produced.

Advantages of non renewable resource:

  • Produce more power after refining.
  • Unique products are derived
  • The economy of the country depends on the non renewable resource.
  • It is cheaper to obtain than renewable resource.
  • Produces clean energy.

Disadvantages of non renewable resource:

  • Leads to high level of pollution.
  • May not remain forever.
  • Dangerous to health causing risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and breathing problems like asthma
  • Has impacts on plants and animals too.
  • The refinement process destroys the environment.

How much non renewable resources are left?

As the non renewable resources are natural and cannot be reproduced, it comes to diminish. It is said that due to demand of consumption, after few generations nothing will be left. It remains only for 40 to 80 years and so. Oil and other fossil fuels are finite resources of nature and reserves volume are difficult to calculate. But the loss of these resources would be a shattering effect over the human beings. So it is necessary to conserve energy for the future.

Non renewable resources are very important in today’s life style even though it has various hazards for human being and environment. As we are in peak of using non-renewable resources it will vanish from world. So we need practice to substitute renewable energy for non renewable energy wherever possible.

The future is green energy, sustainability and renewable energy.

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