What do we mean by “renewable”…?
What diffentiates a renewable source of electricity, such as solar panels and solar cells which covert electricity from sunlight, from nuclear reactors, combustion engines, or coal power plants? This briefly will explain the difference between renewable energy, such as that generated by solar panels, to other non-renewable sources of energy.
Solar panels have arrays of solar cells with harvest sunlight and convert it into electricity. You can learn more about solar cell and solar panels in our primary solar panel information section.
Other renewable energy sources include wind and geothermal power. Wind power is generated by placing large windmills in windy areas, usually at high altitude to be maximally effective. Wind power, like solar power, is clean, but is also plagued by cost of setup and cost per kilowatt. Wind power may be unreliable in certain areas where the wind isn’t strong year-round.
Geothermal energy, a form of energy generated from the tectonic pressures and movements that heat the earth’s crust, is used to boil steam and generate electricity.
Non-renewable Energy is energy that is generated from non-renewable material reserves. These non-renewable resources are limited in supply, that is to say that to be non-renewable a resource has to have a reasonably finite amount available for economically feasible extraction. We usually consider a resource non-renewable if it will non regenerate rapidly enough to meet our needs. Oil and coal are examples of non-renewable energy. Like all other fossil fuels, these non-renewable energy sources are created deep within the Earth, and cannot be replaced rapidly enough to meet the needs of any advanced civilization. Effectively, once we run out, we run out. We’ll see miniscule amounts of oil and coal deposits build up, but it won’t be for millions of years, eons of time, before our reserves are replaced. Nonrenewable sources of energy are used once, and afterwards are gone forever.