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Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy

Energy is a big part of our daily lives. We rely on it for essentials like hot water, electricity to power lights and appliances, and fuel to power our cars. Fossil fuels and other sources of non-renewable energy can not be replenished once they are used up, so renewable energy sources are an important part of our future.

Renewable Energy

Currently, only 10 percent of the energy used around the world comes from renewable energy sources such as sunlight, water, and wind. Although these energy sources can be replenished and don’t fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and harmful chemicals, we still rely on non-renewable sources of energy for most of our needs. That’s because renewable energy is often very expensive and difficult to harness efficiently.

Solar energy is the most largely used type of renewable energy. Over the last decade, rooftop solar panels have made it easier and more affordable for businesses and homeowners to harness solar energy for hot water, lights, and electricity. Solar power plants operate generators by converting solar energy into steam.

Wind energy must be harnessed in an area that’s windy year-round. Wind energy has been harnessed for hundreds of years with large pumps that draw water out of the ground. Today, large wind turbines are used to generate electricity. In certain parts of the country with strong winds, it’s common to see large wind farms covering hundreds of acres with tall wind turbines.

Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy resources provide up to 90 percent of the world’s energy. These energy sources include fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum, and coal. Although non-renewable energy sources can’t be replenished once they’re gone, they are much cheaper to harvest than renewable energy sources.

Natural Gas is an abundant, affordable resource that’s made up primarily of methane. It must go through a process that removes most components, except methane, before it can be used as a fuel source. Natural gas is a popular fossil fuel, because it does not produce high greenhouse gas emissions that harm the atmosphere when it’s combusted.

Petroleum, also called crude oil, is found beneath the earth’s surface, so it must be extracted then processed into gasoline or fuel oil. Companies like PRT Offshore often extract petroleum from below the ocean’s floor by using well intervention structures.

Coal is the primary fossil fuel used around the world for electricity. Coal is a type of sedimentary rock found underground that is highly combustible, because it’s made up of carbon and hydrocarbon. In America, coal is used to generate about 93 percent of electricity used by homes and businesses. The downside is that coal generates about three times as much air pollution as other fossil fuels when combusted.

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