Nonrenewable Resources Definition (2022)

What Are Nonrenewable Resources?

The term nonrenewableresourcerefers to a natural substance that is not replenished with the speed at which it is consumed. As such, a nonrenewable resource is a finite resource. Humans constantly draw on the reserves of these substances while the formation of new supplies takes eons. Examples of nonrenewable resources include fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal. The opposite of a nonrenewable resource is a renewable resource. The supplies of these resources replenish naturally or can be sustained.

Key Takeaways

  • A nonrenewableresource is a substance that is used up more quickly than it can replace itself.
  • The supply of a nonrenewable resource is finite, which means it cannot easily be replenished
  • Nonrenewable resources are extracted directly from the Earth.
  • Most fossil fuels, minerals, and metal ores are nonrenewable resources.
  • The opposite of nonrenewable resources is renewable ones, whose supplies are abundant and are considered sustainable.

Understanding Nonrenewable Resources

Nonrenewable resources come directly from the earth. This can be directly from the ground or a mine. The reserves of these substances took billions of years to form, and it will take billions of years to replace the supplies used. As such, the supplies of nonrenewable resources are finite and cannot be replaced. Humans extract these resources in gas, liquid, or solid form and then convert them to suit their needs.

Crude oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium are nonrenewable resources. These are all processed into products that can be used commercially. For instance, the fossil fuel industry extracts crude oil from the ground and converts it to gasoline. Fossil fuel liquids also are refined into petrochemical products that are used as ingredients in the manufacture of literally hundreds of products from plastics and polyurethane to solvents.

Some types of groundwater are considered nonrenewable resources if the aquifer is unable to be replenished at the same rate at which it's drained.

Most societies are heavily dependent on nonrenewable resources, especially for energy. It's estimated that about 80% of all of the world's energy is consumed using fossil fuels. Not only does this put a huge strain on the available supply but it also has a major impact on the environment. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, which leads to climate change.

In economic terms, nonrenewables are resources of financial or economic value that cannot be readily replaced at the speed with which they are being consumed.

Nonrenewable Resources vs. Renewable Resources

Nonrenewable resources are contrasted with renewable ones. The supplies of renewable resources are abundant and endless, which makes them easy to find and easy to replace. Unlike nonrenewable ones, renewable resources are generally sustainable. While the former can be depleted, the latter can't.

(Video) What are the non-renewable resources of energy | Definition of non renewable energy

The sun, wind, and water are the most common examples of renewable resources. Others include lumber (which can be replenished through planting), the earth's heat (geothermal), and biomass.

The call to use renewable resources, especially as energy sources, is becoming more common. That's because our dependence on and consumption of nonrenewable resources is causing a rapid decline in supplies and leading to climate change. Clean energy sources include solar energy and turbines that are powered by wind. These easily replenish themselves and don't have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Nonrenewable ResourcesRenewable Resources
OilSun
Natural GasWind
CoalWater
Nuclear EnergyGeothermal and Biomass
Metals and Minerals*Metals and Minerals*

What about metals and minerals that come from the earth, such as gold, silver, and iron? These may be nonrenewable or renewable resources, depending on who you ask. They can fall into the former category because they are extracted from the Earth. But some people consider them renewable and sustainable because they are abundant and can be used and recycled.

Fossil Fuels and Nonrenewable Resources

Fossil fuels are all nonrenewable. But not all nonrenewables are fossil fuels. Crude oil, natural gas, and coal are all considered fossil fuels, but uranium is not. Rather, it is a heavy metal that is extracted as a solid and then converted by nuclear power plants into a fuel source.

All of these nonrenewable resources have proved historically to be valuable energy sources that are inexpensive to extract. Storage, conversion, and shipping are easy and cheap.

Fuels created from nonrenewable resources are still the primary source of all the power generated in the world due to their affordability and high energy content.

Renewable Growth

Following the basic rule of supply and demand, the cost to obtain nonrenewable resources will continue to rise as they become scarcer. Supply for many of these fuels is in danger of running out completely. Eventually, their prices will hit a point that end users cannot afford, forcing a move toward alternative energy sources.

Concern over the impact of fossil fuel use on the environment and its contribution to climate change continues to grow. The first international agreement on fighting climate change was the Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997. In 2015, 196 different parties adopted the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change. By signing, the parties agreed to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The alternatives to fossil fuels require ample lead time to be put into place. That process has begun slowly. Wind power generated about 6.3% of American electrical power in 2017 and was the source of about 8.4% in 2020. About 1.6% of American electricity was supplied by solar power as of the end of 2018. That figure rose to 2.3% in 2020.

In the U.S., plug-in electric vehicles had a market share of a bit over 2% in 2018. As many as 6.6 million electric cars were sold in the world in 2021. That figure represented about 9% of the global market.

(Video) Difference between Renewable resources and Non renewable resources

What Defines a Nonrenewable Resource?

Nonrenewable resources are derived from the Earth— in a finite supply that can take billions of years to replenish. Historically, many nonrenewables have been relatively cheap to extract. But as their supply continues to diminish, the cost of this extraction may rise in price, leading customers to use alternative sources, such as solar and wind energy.

What Are the Different Types of Nonrenewable Resources?

Among the most common examples of natural resources are crude oil, coal, uranium, and mineral sources such as gold. One subset of nonrenewable resources includes crude oil and natural gas. Both of these substances are made out of organic carbon material, depending on the form it takes after heating and compressing over time. Another form of nonrenewables is minerals, which include gold, silver, and iron. Unlike crude oil and natural gas, these are quite difficult and expensive to extract. Meanwhile, different types of groundwater are nonrenewables when they do not replenish at their draining speed.

How Do Nonrenewables Differ From Renewable Resources?

Since nonrenewables, by definition, will diminish in supply over time, the law of supply and demand suggests that their price will continue to rise. Renewables, by contrast, have an infinite supply. However, at the same time, the cost and time required to establish them will be lengthy. More recently, demand for renewables has grown in tandem with governmental incentives, with many of their costs decreasing over time. Solar energy is one prime example of this trend.

How Do Nonrenewable Resources Affect Climate Change?

Humans depend heavily on fossil fuels like crude oil, natural gas, and coal to supply energy. Burning these commodities release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is the primary greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The more fossil fuels we burn, the more gases build up. This warms up the climate and causes shifts in the atmosphere, in the water, and on the land.

What Are Some Examples of Renewable Resources?

Renewable resources are those whose supplies are abundant and can be easily replenished. Unlike nonrenewable resources, they are considered to be sustainable. Examples of renewable resources are the sun, wind, water, heat from the Earth, and biomass.

The Bottom Line

Fossil fuels are normally the first thing most people think of when they hear the word nonrenewable resources. Collectively, these are resources that come from the earth. They are extracted and converted for human consumption, usually as energy sources. What sets them apart from renewable resources is that their supplies are finite and they aren't considered sustainable because of the damage they do to the environment.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in oureditorial policy.

  1. National Geographic. "Nonrenewable Resources."

  2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "What is the Kyoto Protocol?"

  3. United Nations Climate Change. "The Paris Agreement."

  4. U.S. Department of Energy. "Wind Market Reports: 2021 Edition."

  5. U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Electricity Explained: Electricity in the United States."

  6. Solstice. "Solar Energy Statistics: 44 Numbers That Define U.S. Solar."

  7. Pew Research Center. "Europe Leads the Way in New Electric Vehicle Sales."

    (Video) Difference between Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources

  8. IEC. "Electric cars fend off supply challenges to more than double global sales."

(Video) Renewable resources and Non - renewable resources

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FAQs

What are nonrenewable resources answers? ›

Nonrenewable energy resources include coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy. Once these resources are used up, they cannot be replaced, which is a major problem for humanity as we are currently dependent on them to supply most of our energy needs.

How is a nonrenewable resource defined? ›

A non-renewable resource is one that either does not regenerate or does not regenerate quickly enough to serve some human purpose in a sustainable way. The most common examples of non-renewable resources are fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

What are non-renewable resources short answers 8? ›

The resources which cannot be immediately replaced once they are depleted are called Non-renewable resources. Examples of Non-renewable resources include fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum and natural gas and rare minerals typically found in meteorites.

What is renewable and non-renewable resources short answer? ›

Renewable resources include water and sunlight whereas non-renewable resources include fossil fuels like petroleum and coal.

What is non-renewable energy simple? ›

Non-renewable energy comes from sources that will run out or will not be replenished in our lifetimes—or even in many, many lifetimes. Most non-renewable energy sources are fossil fuels: coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Carbon is the main element in fossil fuels.

What is non-renewable resources in Brainly? ›

Explanation: A nonrenewable resource is a natural substance that is not replenished with the speed at which it is consumed. It is a finite resource. Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy are examples of nonrenewable resources.

What is non-renewable resources Wikipedia? ›

A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource that cannot be readily replaced by natural means at a pace quick enough to keep up with consumption. An example is carbon-based fossil fuels. The original organic matter, with the aid of heat and pressure, becomes a fuel such as oil or gas.

What are renewable resources explain? ›

Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. Sunlight and wind, for example, are such sources that are constantly being replenished. Renewable energy sources are plentiful and all around us.

Which is a renewable resource? ›

Renewable resources include biomass energy (such as ethanol), hydropower, geothermal power, wind energy, and solar energy. Biomass refers to organic material from plants or animals. This includes wood, sewage, and ethanol (which comes from corn or other plants).

What is difference between renewable and non-renewable? ›

Renewable resources are solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, biofuels, cultivated plants, biomass, air, water and soil. In contrast, non-renewable resources are those that are available to us in limited quantities, or those that are renewed so slowly that the rate at which they are consumed is too fast.

What are renewable resources class 10? ›

Renewable resources are those resources that can be replenished or renewed naturally over time. Air, water, wind, solar energy etc are all renewable resources. Renewable resources can be easily renewed by nature.

What is a nonrenewable resource 1 point? ›

Nonrenewable natural resources are things that take longer than a person's lifespan to be replaced. In fact, they can take millions of years to form. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas will not last forever. They are nonrenewable.

What is renewable and non renewable resources class 5? ›

Renewable resources are those which cannot be depleted and could be reused. Examples of renewable resources include air, water, soil, solar energy, etc. Natural resources that are limited in quantity are referred to as non-renewable resources. The examples are coal, petroleum, etc.

What are renewable resources class 8? ›

Renewable resources are those which get renewed or replenished quickly. Some of these are unlimited and are not affected by human activities, such as solar and wind energy.

Why do we use non-renewable resources? ›

Non-renewable energy resources are available in limited supplies, usually because they take a long time to replenish. The advantage of these non-renewable resources is that power plants that use them are able to produce more power on demand. The non-renewable energy resources are: Coal.

What is a non-renewable resource kids? ›

Nonrenewable resources are natural resources that cannot be replaced after they are used. This means that they exist in a fixed amount on Earth. Rock, minerals, metals, uranium, and fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas are all nonrenewable resources.

Why is non-renewable energy good? ›

Advantages of Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable resources are high in energy. Resources such as coal and oil tend to provide us more energy in comparison to renewable energy like solar or wind energy. Huge profits can be generated in the mining of coal, selling of oil or the construction of natural gas pipelines.

What is renewable resources give some examples? ›

Renewable resources include solar energy, wind, falling water, the heat of the earth (geothermal), plant materials (biomass), waves, ocean currents, temperature differences in the oceans and the energy of the tides.

Why are fossil fuels non renewable? ›

Fossil fuels are non-renewable, this means that their supply is limited and they will eventually run out. Fossil fuels formed from the decomposition of plants and animals from millions of years ago this is why they are called fossil fuels.

Which one of the following is non renewable source of energy? ›

Non-renewable energy is fossil fuel energy, such as coal, crude oil , natural gas, and uranium.

What are the effects of non renewable energy? ›

Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—do substantially more harm than renewable energy sources by most measures, including air and water pollution, damage to public health, wildlife and habitat loss, water use, land use, and global warming emissions.

Why is oil nonrenewable? ›

Fossil energy sources, including oil, coal and natural gas, are non-renewable resources that formed when prehistoric plants and animals died and were gradually buried by layers of rock.

Why is coal non renewable? ›

Coal takes millions of years to form

Coal is classified as a nonrenewable energy source because it takes millions of years to form. Coal contains the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy forests.

Why renewable energy is important? ›

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Generating energy that produces no greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and reduces some types of air pollution. Diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on imported fuels. Creating economic development and jobs in manufacturing, installation, and more.

What is renewable resources PDF? ›

- renewable resources – can be replenished or reproduced easily, at a rate comparable or faster than its rate of consumption by humans. Some of them (sunlight, air, wind, tides, hydroelectricity) are continuously available and their quantity is not affected by human consumption.

Why is energy renewable? ›

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Enhanced reliability, security, and resilience of the nation's power grid. Job creation throughout renewable energy industries. Reduced carbon emissions and air pollution from energy production. Increased U.S. energy independence.

What is renewable water? ›

Renewable water resources are rechargeable due to the hydrological cycle unless they are overexploited, comprising groundwater aquifers and surface water like rivers and lakes. Internal renewable water resources comprise the average annual flow of rivers and groundwater generated from endogenous precipitation.

Is Salt a renewable? ›

Salt is considered a non-renewable natural resource because the time it takes natural processes to create more salt is longer than the time it takes for people to use it up.

Is natural gas renewable? ›

Like coal and oil, natural gas comes from a depleting source that cannot be replenished over time and is thus referred to as a nonrenewable resource. Renewable energy is a key resource for helping the environment.

How can we protect non-renewable resources? ›

Actions like driving electric and hybrid vehicles, installing solar panels on and properly insulating your business and home, and using energy-efficient appliances are all smaller-scale changes that you can make to reduce your nonrenewable resource usage.

What gases are non-renewable? ›

Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel formed from the remains of tiny sea plants and animals that died 300-400 million years ago. Approximately 90% of natural gas is composed of methane, but it also contains other gases such as propane and butane.

What are five examples of nonrenewable resources? ›

Nonrenewable Resources vs. Renewable Resources
Nonrenewable ResourcesRenewable Resources
OilSun
Natural GasWind
CoalWater
Nuclear EnergyGeothermal and Biomass
1 more row

What are non-renewable resources BYJU? ›

Non-renewable energy is energy from fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil, natural gas, and uranium.

What are 5 differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources for Class 8? ›

What is the difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable resources?
Renewable Energy SourceNon-Renewable Energy Source
They are replaced by nature in a short period of timeThey cannot be replaced by nature
They are inexhaustible.They will exhaust one day
They do not cause any pollutionThey cause pollution when used
2 more rows
26 Aug 2022

What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy for kids? ›

Nonrenewable energy sources, like coal, oil, and natural gas, cannot be easily replenished. A renewable energy source can be more easily replenished. Common examples of renewable energy include wind, sunlight, moving water, and Earth's heat.

How are the non-renewable resources divided? ›

Non-renewable resources are those natural resources that are available in limited quantity. These resources cannot be renewed or replenished in short duration. Therefore they are also known as exhaustible resources. Examples- coal, natural gas, petroleum etc.

Is soil renewable or nonrenewable? ›

Soil is a non-renewable resource; its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.

Is wind renewable or nonrenewable? ›

Wind energy is a source of renewable energy. It does not contaminate, it is inexhaustible and reduces the use of fossil fuels, which are the origin of greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.

What are renewable sources? ›

Renewable resources include biomass energy (such as ethanol), hydropower, geothermal power, wind energy, and solar energy. Biomass refers to organic material from plants or animals. This includes wood, sewage, and ethanol (which comes from corn or other plants).

What are the renewable energy resources? ›

Here are a few common sources of renewable energy:
  • SOLAR ENERGY. Solar energy is the most abundant of all energy resources and can even be harnessed in cloudy weather. ...
  • WIND ENERGY. ...
  • GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. ...
  • HYDROPOWER. ...
  • OCEAN ENERGY. ...
  • BIOENERGY.

Why do we use non-renewable resources? ›

Non-renewable energy resources are available in limited supplies, usually because they take a long time to replenish. The advantage of these non-renewable resources is that power plants that use them are able to produce more power on demand. The non-renewable energy resources are: Coal.

Is oil renewable energy? ›

Fossil energy sources, including oil, coal and natural gas, are non-renewable resources that formed when prehistoric plants and animals died and were gradually buried by layers of rock.

Why is it called renewable energy? ›

Renewable energy comes from sources that are constantly and naturally renewed (hence the name), such as wind power and solar energy. Renewable energy is also often called sustainable energy. Renewable energy sources are the opposite of fossil fuels, like coal and gas, which are a finite energy source.

Why is energy renewable? ›

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Enhanced reliability, security, and resilience of the nation's power grid. Job creation throughout renewable energy industries. Reduced carbon emissions and air pollution from energy production. Increased U.S. energy independence.

Is water a non-renewable resources? ›

Air and water are renewable natural resources too. They don't regrow like trees or have babies like animals. But, they are always being renewed. They move in cycles.

How can we protect non-renewable resources? ›

Actions like driving electric and hybrid vehicles, installing solar panels on and properly insulating your business and home, and using energy-efficient appliances are all smaller-scale changes that you can make to reduce your nonrenewable resource usage.

What gases are non-renewable? ›

Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel formed from the remains of tiny sea plants and animals that died 300-400 million years ago. Approximately 90% of natural gas is composed of methane, but it also contains other gases such as propane and butane.

Is natural gas renewable? ›

Like coal and oil, natural gas comes from a depleting source that cannot be replenished over time and is thus referred to as a nonrenewable resource. Renewable energy is a key resource for helping the environment.

Why clean energy is important? ›

The most important aspect of clean energy are the environmental benefits as part of a global energy future. While clean, renewable resources also preserve the world's natural resources, they also reduce the risk of environmental disasters, such as fuel spills or the problems associated with natural gas leaks.

Why is sustainable energy important? ›

Sustainable energy, such as wind and solar energy, creates zero carbon emissions that can harm the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. It offsets the need for fossil fuels, which are actively increasing climate change and polluting our earth.

Why is non-renewable energy good? ›

Advantages of Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable resources are high in energy. Resources such as coal and oil tend to provide us more energy in comparison to renewable energy like solar or wind energy. Huge profits can be generated in the mining of coal, selling of oil or the construction of natural gas pipelines.

How non-renewable resources affect the environment? ›

Non-renewable energy sources are not just altering our Earth's atmosphere by increasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. They also emit a variety of pollutants that affect people's health and the environment. For example, coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury emissions in the US.

What is non-renewable resources Wikipedia? ›

A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource that cannot be readily replaced by natural means at a pace quick enough to keep up with consumption. An example is carbon-based fossil fuels. The original organic matter, with the aid of heat and pressure, becomes a fuel such as oil or gas.

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