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Difference between renewable and non-renewable resources

The renewable resources are those natural resources that regenerate in an interval of equal or lesser time that of consumption. This type of resource is characterized by being easily renewable, either by natural processes or by human action, existing in an amount practically undefined.

The non-renewable resourcesinstead, they are those natural resources whose regeneration occurs at a much faster rate slow than its consumption, so its quantity is limited. Because of this, these resources are expendable.

Both types of resources are generally used in the production of different types of resources energyeach presenting particular advantages and disadvantages.

Renewable resources

Non-renewable resources


They are the natural resources that can be renewed at the rate of their consumption, being in a potentially unlimited amount. They are natural resources that cannot be regenerated at the same rate as consumption, depleting over time.


  • They regenerate quickly.
  • They may be found in large numbers.
  • Easy to use and process.
  • They regenerate slowly.
  • Its quantity is limited.
  • All these resources are found on our planet.


  • They are environmentally friendly.
  • They require minimal human intervention.
  • They can become unlimited.
  • They generate a lot of energy at relatively low cost.
  • If necessary, they are easy to extract and manufacture.
  • They are found in good quantity.


  • The initial investment cost is high.
  • unpredictable
  • Power generation is limited with current technology.
  • They cause a negative impact on the environment.
  • If they run out, it is impossible to regenerate them.
  • They are available in some regions and not in others.
  • Their interdependence can create geo-economic conflicts.
  • The sun, wind, tides, geothermal energy.
  • water
  • Biomass and biofuels (ethanol).
  • Agricultural production.
  • Some lumber woods.
  • coal
  • Natural gas (methane).
  • Oil and derivatives.
  • Mineral coal.
  • Different minerals and metals.
  • Some underground water tanks.

What is a resource?

A resource is an item that is used by to producedirectly or indirectly, so it owns a value of economic production and can be potential, in use or in reserves.

The natural resources are a type of resources found in the nature and that are used in their natural state or after being processed. These can be renewable or non-renewable, which means that it is possible to regenerate them or, alternatively, to deplete them due to consumption.

They are used for human consumption, in the production of energy, in goods and/or services.

What are renewable resources?

The renewable resources are a type of natural resource that can be renewed in an interval of equal or lesser time at the rate at which it is consumed. This type of resource does not generate negative impacts on the environment, during its use or exploitation.

Some of these resources are basically unlimited, as they are renewed or produced naturally without human intervention. For example, solar radiation and wind.

Others, on the other hand, are renewed when they are being used, so they remain constantly available, as in the case of timber forests and different agricultural resources.

Those resources that require a production process to obtain them, assume that their consumption is not exceeded, since it can affect reserves.

Characteristics of renewable resources

  • They regenerate almost or faster than they are consumed.
  • They may or may not require human intervention for their generation.
  • They can be found in unlimited quantity.
  • Its use and/or production is generally friendly to the environment.
  • In most cases, obtaining energy from these resources requires a high initial financial investment.
  • The behavior of some resources can be unpredictable.

Renewable energy resources

Renewable energy is a type of energy that comes from nature and its use generally does not have negative effects on the environment, compared to various types of non-renewable energy.

solar bread
Solar panels are used to capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells.

Main renewable energy resources

The solar energy it is one of the most abundant renewable energy resources. The amount of energy that can be obtained from the sun for human consumption is unlimited, considering current energy needs.

The energy coming from the wind, called wind power, is obtained thanks to large structures called wind turbines, installed in wind farms where there are constant currents of strong winds. These currents move turbines that generate electrical energy.

The hydraulic energy it is the one obtained from the movement of water, usually from rivers. As with wind energy, this is obtained by means of turbines.

The geotermic energy is a form of renewable energy that uses the heat that emanates from within the Earth, coming from its internal radiation.

Another example of renewable energy are the biofuels, which are characterized by being produced through the use of agricultural crops. For example, ethanol is produced from the cultivation of corn and sugar cane.

Advantages of renewable energy resources

Some advantages of this type of resources are that they are found in practically unlimited quantities, the operating costs are much lower than those required in the generation of non-renewable energy, in addition to allowing the energy to be produced locally with the available resources.

Disadvantages of renewable energy resources

On the other hand, among the disadvantages is that the cost of producing this type of energy is high in the short term. Also, since human influence is minimal or absent in the production of many of the resources themselves (as in the case of wind), they can be unpredictable.

While it is true that they can offer the ability to create energy locally, they also limit the type of energy that can be used (a river-poor region is not able to generate as much hydroelectric power, for example).

Examples of renewable resources

  • Sun (solar radiation).
  • Water.
  • Wind and tides.
  • Biomass (is the organic matter that produces energy, whether processed or in its natural state) and biofuels.
  • Animal population for human consumption that is maintained in reproduction.
  • Manufactured items such as recycled paper.
  • Forests of trees that have an accelerated growth cycle.

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What are non-renewable resources?

The non-renewable resources are resources that take a long time to be renewed and/or that exist a limited quantityfeels that human consumption can deplete the reserves.

Basically, the more these types of resources are used, the scarcer they become, as they cannot be regenerated naturally in the short term.

Characteristics of non-renewable resources

  • They do not regenerate or do so slowly.
  • Its rate of consumption is greater than that of its regeneration.
  • They are generally relatively easy to obtain.
  • It is possible to obtain a lot of energy from it at a relatively low economic cost.
  • Their use and exploitation have a negative impact on the environment.

Non-renewable energy resources

Non-renewable energy resources are those resources used to obtain energy, and are finite and/or that run out without being able to regenerate quickly.

One of its main characteristics is the fact that these resources are found on our planet. For example, oil, natural gas and various types of minerals.

The biggest disadvantage that the use and exploitation of this type of energy resources entails is that they are highly harmful to the environment.

oil platform
Oil rigs are large structures used to extract oil.

Main non-renewable energy resources

The oil it is a non-renewable energy resource that, despite increasing its value over time, is still relatively cheap, when you take into account its ability to generate energy. Petroleum derivatives work as fuel, for example, petrol and diesel.

The nuclear energy it is a non-renewable form of energy that comes from minerals such as uranium. This is mined and then atomically processed through nuclear fission, which causes it to release large amounts of energy.

The mineral coal it is also a widely used material, as well as oil, and which must be extracted. This is used to generate electrical energy in specialized thermal plants. The biggest problem it brings is its high level of environmental pollution.

Another form of non-renewable energy of great use is that which comes from the natural gasspecifically the methane. This is under layers of soil, and you have to dig to extract it. It is used to generate heat, in domestic heaters and for cooking.

Advantages of non-renewable energy resources

The energy obtained from this type of resources is relatively cheap when compared to the energy production of renewable resources. Generally, it is possible to obtain a large amount of energy at low cost from materials such as fossil fuels.

In addition, this type of resource is easier to manufacture to obtain energy than renewables. Many of these, like coal and natural gas are basically ready to be used.

Disadvantages of non-renewable energy resources

Among the main disadvantages of non-renewable energy resources is the fact that they are exhaustible. The consequences of a high dependence on its use can be serious, in the event of a global shortage.

In addition, practices such as extensive mining can affect large areas, habitat and animal species in a region. Likewise, the combustion of petroleum products contributes to environmental pollution (for example, by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) and global warming.

Another problem is the interdependence created by the widespread and standardized consumption of certain types of non-renewable energy. For example, when a country is rich in this type of resource, it can be surrounded by complex geo-economic, social and human problems with other countries that depend on it.

Likewise, countries that do not have these resources are at the mercy of fluctuating international prices for these resources and their derivatives.

Examples of non-renewable resources

  • Petroleum and its derivatives.
  • Natural gas.
  • Mineral coal.
  • Nuclear energy.
  • Some groundwater settlements.

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