Sources of energy take many different forms. Among these sources are fossil fuels such as petroleum and natural gas, wind power, solar power and tidal power. A gradual shift is taking place toward renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar and tidal power, since these energy sources can be used in perpetuity.
Characteristics of a Renewable Energy Source
A renewable source of energy is one that is easy to replenish within a human lifetime. Some of these renewable energy sources constantly renew themselves. The wind keeps on blowing, and the tides keep moving in and out. Other renewable energy sources like biofuels take time to grow, but since they can grow in a single season, they are also considered renewable energy sources.
Characteristics of a Nonrenewable Source of Energy
A nonrenewable source of energy may be confusing to understand. After all, petroleum is made out of ancient plants and animals and could possibly be produced again. However, making petroleum takes far longer than a human lifetime. Any source of energy that takes hundreds, thousands or millions of years to produce again is considered a nonrenewable source of energy, since we can deplete these sources of energy far more quickly than they can be renewed.
Concerns About Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is not without its environmental concerns. Wind power requires turbines and wind farms, and these can make noise and interfere with bird flyways. To create solar power on a large scale, we can make huge solar farms, but these are in lieu of other land uses. Hydropower is also considered to be renewable, but creating more dams is expensive and floods valuable land. The most controversial renewable energy source is biofuel, an alternative to petroleum. Growing fuel crops instead of food crops is an object of concern for those who worry about how the world will feed itself.
Accessing Adequate Renewable Energy
Another concern about renewable energy is the question of access and adequate energy. The current petroleum-based society uses a lot of energy. Can we make enough renewable energy to fill the demand? Making a new power grid is expensive, and developing alternative technologies to process new energy sources is also challenging. Shifting from one sort of energy source to another is not without its difficulties.
Addressing the Challenges
As nonrenewable sources of energy decrease, it is necessary to move toward renewables. It’s important to address environmental concerns before developing large-scale renewable power production. It’s equally important to determine how these renewables fit into existing power grids and how families can access these technologies.