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Renewable And Non Renewable Energy Sources

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 4801 words Published: 4th May 2017

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The world provides everything to human. The resources make people live better and better. There are many forms of resources; different resources have completely different functions and effects to people. People should protect them because some of them are not renewable. I will introduce the different types of resources, they are renewable or non-renewable and a lot of things about environment in this research.

More and more industries are building up in the world. The pollutions are more serious than before. People cannot live without nice environment, so we should get some solutions for those pollutions. If people do not stop making pollutions, the consequences will be horrible and bad to human. Because everything is connected, no one can escape from it.

World is our home, we should understand it, respect it and love it.

Resources can be separated to be renewable and non-renewable. Or resources can be separated to be those five kinds: mineral resources, energy resources, land resources, water resources and biological resources.

Mineral resources: All of minerals are non-renewable resource.

Minerals include all materials extracted from the earth. Mineral resources include:

Metallic minerals: iron, copper, aluminum, lead, zinc, tin and so on…

Non-metallic minerals like limestone, sandstone, sand, clay and so on…

South Africa’s wealth has been built on the country’s vast resources – nearly 90% of the platinum metals on Earth, 80% of the manganese, 73% of the chrome, 45% of the vanadium and 41% of the gold.

Energy resources in the world:


Oil and gas-Non-renewable.

Coal, oil and gas are called “fossil fuels” because they have been formed from the organic remains of prehistoric plants and animals. That’s why they are non-renewable. Except those three kinds of energy resources, most of other energy resources are renewable resources.

Name of Energy Resources

Non-renewable or Renewable

Wind power


Wave power


Solar power


Nuclear power


Tidal power


Hydroelectric power


Geothermal power


Bio mass


Pumped storage


Land resources-Renewable

Water resources-Renewable

Biological resources-Renewable

Sustainability of energy resources:

Definition: Sustainable energy is about using energy cleverly and using energy generated from pure sources and clean technologies.

Using sustainable energy is benefit for human’s present and future. Being efficient with our energy will reduce energy bills, reduce the amount of energy we need to produce in the first place and decrease pollutions.

In fact, sustainable energy is not just about using renewable energy; perhaps it is about using energy wisely and introducing energy efficiency measures.

Energy demand

A number of factors are clearly. The world’s population will continue to grow for several decades at least. Energy demand increases faster and faster, and the proportion supplied by electricity will also grow faster still. The main question is how people generate that electricity? According to surveys, these days, 64% comes from fossil fuels, 16% from nuclear fission and 19% from hydro, with very little from other renewable in worldwide.

Sources of energy

Renewable energy like wind and solar are appropriate first consideration in sustainable development, because apart from constructing the plant, there is no destroy of mineral resources and no direct air or water pollutions.

But these “free” sources cannot be the only option. Renewable sources other than hydro – notably wind and solar, are diffuse and unreliable by nature of their occurrence.

Except for renewable resources, another most important thing is what resources have most abundant and less polluting. The criteria for any acceptable energy supply will continue to be cost and safety, as well as environmental considerations.

Energy resources

There is abundant coal in many parts of the world, but with the constraints imposed by concern about global warming, it is likely that these will increasingly their large-scale use for electricity production will be scaled down. Current proposals for “clean coal” technologies may change this outlook. The main technology involves using the coal to make hydrogen from water by a two-stage gasification process, then burying the carbon dioxide and burning the hydrogen. Elements of the technology are proven but the challenge is to bring the cost of this down sufficiently to compete with nuclear power.

Natural gas is also reasonably abundant but is so valuable for direct use after being reticulated to the point where heat is required, and as a chemical feedstock, that its large-scale use for power generation makes little sense and is arguably unsustainable.

Fuel for nuclear power is abundant, and if well-proven but currently uneconomic fast breeder technology is used, or thorium becomes a nuclear fuel, the supply is almost limitless.

The Hydrogen problems

Hydrogen is expected to come into great demand as a transport fuel which does not contribute to global warming. It may be used in fuel cells to produce electricity or directly in internal combustion motors. Fuel cells are at an early stage of technological development and still require substantial, research and development input, although they will be an important technology in the future.

Hydrogen may be provided by steam reforming of natural gas by thermonuclear processes, or by electrolysis of water.

Advantages and disadvantages of energy resources:

Name of energy resources


Fossil fuels

Very large amounts of electricity, fairly cheaply.

Gas-fired power stations are very efficient.

The power station can be built almost anywhere.

Wind power

Wind is free, wind farms need no fuel.

Wave power

The energy is free – no fuel needed, no waste produced.

Not expensive to operate and maintain.

Solar power

Solar energy is free and no pollutions.

Nuclear power

Nuclear power costs about the same as coal, so it’s not expensive to make.

Produces small wastes.

Nuclear power is reliable.

Tidal power

Once you’ve built it, tidal power is free.

It produces no greenhouse gases or other waste.

It produces electricity reliably.

Not expensive to maintain.

Hydroelectric power

Once the dam is built, the energy is virtually free.

No waste or pollution produced.

Much more reliable than wind, solar or wave power.

Geothermal power

Geothermal energy does not produce any pollution, and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Once you’ve built a geothermal power station, the energy is almost free.

Bio mass

It makes sense to use waste materials where we can.

The fuel tends to be cheap.

Less demand on the fossil fuels.

Pumped storage

Little effect on the landscape.

No pollution or waste

Conclusion: Most of those energy resources have below advantages:

No pollution.

No waste.

Cheap some of them free.

Build up stations easily.

Power is reliable.

Name of energy resources


Fossil fuels

Burning any fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the “greenhouse effect”, warming the Earth.


Wind power

The wind is not always predictable.

Suitable areas for wind-expensive.

Can kill birds.

Wave power

Depends on the waves – sometimes you’ll get loads

Solar power

Doesn’t work at night.

Very expensive to build solar power stations.

Can be unreliable.

Nuclear power

Although not much waste is produced, it is very, very dangerous.

Tidal power

A barrage across an estuary is very expensive to build, and affects a very wide area.

Only provides power for around 10 hours each day, when the tide is actually moving in or out.

There are few suitable sites for tidal barrages

Hydroelectric power

The dams are very expensive to build.

Building a large dam will flood a very large area upstream, causing problems for animals that used to live there.

Water quality and quantity downstream can be affected, which can have an impact on plant life.

Geothermal power

The big problem is that there are not many places where you can build a geothermal power station.

You need hot rocks of a suitable type, at a depth where we can drill down to them.

Bio mass

Collecting or growing the fuel in sufficient quantities can be difficult.

We burn the biofuel, so it makes greenhouse gases just like fossil fuels do.

Some waste materials are not available all year round.

Pumped storage

Expensive to build.

Once it’s used, you can’t use it again until you’ve pumped the water back up.

Conclusion: Most of those energy resources have below disadvantages:

Build up stations is expensive.


Not easily to get power. Sometimes, bad weather will affect it.


Problems with resources:

The major resources problems around the world:

Natural resources are being degraded. The oil, the water, the old growth forests are all limited resources. They must be conserved for the most important future uses.

Oil is necessary for the operation of all sorts of machinery, yet it is not being conserved but recklessly pumped out of the earth and sold to the highest bidder.

Forest resources. In the early history, the earth is approximately 2/3 of the land is covered by forests. The area of forest nearly 76 million hectares. Now, world only has 36 hectares of forests because deforestation and forest clearing.

The fresh water shortage. Human consumption of freshwater is increasing rapidly; it causes serious shortage of water resources. The freshwater resources on the earth are limited, and distribution is not balanced. Water shortages became very important problem to restrict many countries’ economy development especially the agricultural production. Drinkable water is increasing rare; indeed, it is sold in stores for the same price of colas. But underground water is needed for crops, and the underwater reserves are running out. Here, national and international management are required.

Plowland decreases. Due to the population growth and the non-agricultural population increases, the land is almost zero. Meanwhile, many area face soil erosion and desertification of land degradation. Every year millions of hectares of arable land about loss.

Desertification. The reasons are overgrazing, deforestation denudation and drought.

Problem with resources in South Africa:

The South African mining industry has been consistently churning out some of the world’s foremost natural resources, including precious metals such as gold and platinum. The world leader in platinum production, South Africa is suffering from an energy shortage.

Two major shortages of resources are water and electricity in South Africa.

Solutions: Firstly, citizens should save water and electricity. Secondly, South Africa government sets up more stations and use high developed technologies to use energy resources produce water and electricity. Finally, if SA does not have high technologies, it needs to buy them from other countries or scientists should start to make plans.

Effect of mining on the environment:

Mining has strong power to destructive to the environment. It is one of the main reason which causes of deforestation. In order to mine, people clear and burn trees and vegetations. The ground becomes completely bare, large scale mining operations use huge number of bulldozers and excavators to extract the metals and minerals from the soil.

In order to cluster the extractions, they use chemicals such as cyanide and mercury. These chemicals go through tailings and are often discharged into rivers, streams, bays, and oceans. These pollutions contaminate all living organisms within the body of water and ultimately the people who depend on the fish for their main sources of protein and their economic livelihood.

Small scale mining is equally devastating to the environment, if not more. There are two types of small scale mining¼Œland dredging and river dredging:

Land dredging involves miners using a generator to dig a large hole in the ground. They use a high pressure hose to expose the gold-bearing layer of sand and clay. The gold bearing slurry is pumped into a sluice box, which collects gold particles, while mine tailings flow into either an abandoned mining pit or adjacent forest. When the mining pits fill with water from the tailings, they become stagnant water pools. These pools create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other water-born insects. Malaria and other water-born diseases increase significantly whenever open pools of water are nearby.

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River dredging involves moving along a river on a platform or boat. The miners use a hydrolic suction hose and suction the gravel and mud as they move along the river. The gravel, mud, and rocks go through the tailings (pipes) and any gold fragments are collected on felt mats. The remaining gravel, mud, and rocks go back into the river, but in a different location than where it was originally suctioned. This creates problems for the river. The displaced gravel and mud disrupt the natural flow of the river. Fish and other living organisms often die and fishermen can no longer navigate in the obstructed rivers. Think about the fact that producing a single gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste.

Disadvantages of mining:

It destroys forest and wetlands.

It may mean that you have to cut down lots of trees just to get to the spot that has all the gold or iron ore.

Underground coal mining can require the removal of almost an entire layer of material deep under the surface. When the timber supports collapse, this can lead to subsidence. The subsidence can mean damage to natural areas. It can even cause cracks in river beds, leading to loss of river flow.

Some mining involves the inadvertent dispersal of heavy metals, such as lead, into the atmosphere. This can have serious health effects, including mental retardation in children.

Asbestos mining causes the dispersal of asbestos into the environment. This will cause deaths among local residents and workers, often several decades later. Fortunately, the mining and use of asbestos are banned in most parts of the world.

Industry and its exploitation of the resources:

Gold: Gold is one of the most important roles in South Africa’s economy.

A number of different techniques can be used to mine gold. The three most common methods in South Africa are panning, open cast and shaft mining.


Panning for gold is a manual technique that is used to sort gold from other sediments. Wide, shallow pans are filled with sand and gravel from river beds that may contain gold. Water is added and the pans are shaken.

Open cast mining

This is a form of surface mining. Surface layers of rock and sediments are removed so that the deeper gold rich layers can be reached. This type of mining is not suitable if the gold is buried very deep below the surface.

Shaft mining

South Africa’s thin but extensive gold reefs slope at an angle underneath the ground, and this means that some deposits are very deep and often difficult to reach. Shaft mining is needed to reach the gold ore. After the initial drilling, blasting and equipping of a mine shaft, tunnels are built leading outwards from the main shaft so that the gold reef can be reached.

Iron: Iron is one of the most abundant metals on Earth.

It is extracted from iron ore and is almost never found in its elemental form. Iron ores are usually rich in iron oxide minerals and may vary in colour from dark grey to rusty red.

Iron mining and iron ore processing:

One of the more common methods of mining for iron ore is open cast mining. Open cast mining is used when the iron ore is found near the surface. Once the ore has been removed, it needs to be crushed into fine particles before it can be processed further.

As mentioned earlier, iron is commonly found in the form of iron oxides. To create pure iron, the ore must be smelted to remove the oxygen.

Definition Smelting

Smelting is a method used to extract a metal from its ore and then purify it.

Smelting usually involves heating the ore and also adding a reducing agent (e.g. carbon) so that the metal can be freed from its ore. The bonds between iron and oxygen are very strong, and therefore it is important to use an element that will form stronger bonds with oxygen that the iron.

A blast furnace is a huge steel container many metres high and lined with heat-resistant material.

STEP 1: Production of carbon monoxide.

STEP 2: Reduction of iron oxides takes place in a number of stages to produce iron.

STEP 3: Fluxing: The flux is used to melt impurities in the ore.

Phosphate: A phosphate is a salt of phosphoric acid.

Phosphorus is seldom found in its pure elemental form, and phosphate therefore refers to a rock or ore that contains phosphate ions.

Mining phosphates:

Phosphate is found in beds in sedimentary rock, and has to be quarried to access the ore. A quarry is a type of open pit mine that is used to extract ore. In South Africa, the main phosphate producer is at the Palaborwa alkaline igneous complex, which produces about 3 million tons of ore per year. The ore is crushed into a powder and is then treated with sulfuric acid to form a superphosphate, which is then used as a fertilizer. In the equation below, the phosphate mineral is calcium phosphate.

Coal: Coal is what is known as a fossil fuel.

How coal is removed from the ground?

Coal can be removed from the crust in a number of different ways. The most common methods used are strip mining, open cast mining and underground mining.

Strip mining

Strip mining is a form of surface mining that is used when the coal reserves are very shallow. The overburden (overlying sediment) is removed so that the coal seams can be reached. These sediments are replaced once the mining is finished, and in many cases, attempts are made to rehabilitate the area.

Open cast mining

Open cast mining is also a form of surface mining, but here the coal deposits are too deep to be reached using strip mining. One of the environmental impacts of open cast mining is that the overburden is dumped somewhere else away from the mine, and this leaves a huge pit in the ground.

Underground mining

Undergound mining is normally used when the coal seams are much deeper, usually at a depth greater than 40 m. As with shaft mining for gold, the problem with underground mining is that it is very dangerous, and there is a very real chance that the ground could collapse during the mining if it is not support.

Pollution due to industry:

Pollutants produces and the environment impact on the lithosphere and atmosphere include nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/AlfedPalmersmokestacks.jpg/260px-AlfedPalmersmokestacks.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution

Major primary pollutants produced by industries include:

Sulfur oxides

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) – especially nitrogen dioxide are emitted from high temperature combustion.

Carbon monoxide – is a colourless, odourless, non-irritating but very poisonous gas. It is a product by incomplete combustion of fuel such as natural gas, coal or wood.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas emitted from combustion but is also a gas vital to living organisms. It is a natural gas in the atmosphere.

Many of the largest polluters come from the chemical, pesticide, oil refining, petrochemical, metal smelting, iron and steel, and food processing industries. All are major users of energy that produce large amounts of waste products and pollution. Other industries have less potential impact but are still considered highly problematic when it comes to pollution. These industries include the textile, leather tanning, paint, plastics, pharmaceutical, and paper and pulp industries. Industries that are often outside the traditional manufacturing sector-but nevertheless contribute to environmental degradation-include the construction industry.

Atmosphere: Air pollution is produced by industry. The plan sets overall national fixed emissions caps for industrial pollutants causing smog and acid rain. Air pollution can result in poor air quality, both in cities and the countryside. Some air pollutants make people sick, causing breathing problems and increasing the likelihood of cancer. Others are harmful to plants, animals, and the ecosystems in which they live. Some air pollutants return to Earth in the form of acid rain, which corrodes statues and buildings, damages crops and forests, and makes lakes and streams unsuitable for fish and other plant and animal life.

Man-made air pollution is also changing the Earth’s atmosphere so that it lets in more harmful radiation from the Sun. Meanwhile, people release more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, preventing heat from escaping back into space and leading to a rise in global average temperatures. Global warming will raise sea levels and change climates all over the world. Some places will become hotter and drier, others wetter. The incidence of severe storms and flooding is likely to increase. Global warming will also affect food supply and increase the spread of tropical disease.

Lithosphere: The lithosphere is the solid shell of a rocky planet called earth. That means the crust and the upper part of the mantle which is joined to the crust (see picture on the right). Under the lithosphere there is the asthenosphere, the weaker, hotter, and deeper part of the upper mantle.

Nitrogen cycle:

Four processes participate in the cycling of nitrogen through the biosphere:

nitrogen fixation, decay, nitrification and denitrification

Nitrogen Fixation

The nitrogen molecule (N2) is quite inert. To break it apart so that its atoms can combine with other atoms requires the input of substantial amounts of energy.


The proteins made by plants enter and pass through food webs just as carbohydrates do.


Ammonia can be taken up directly by plants – usually through their roots. However, most of the ammonia produced by decay is converted into nitrates. This is accomplished in two steps:

Bacteria of the genus Nitrosomonas oxidize NH3 to nitrites (NO2−).

Bacteria of the genus Nitrobacter oxidize the nitrites to nitrates (NO3−).

Both soil and the ocean contain archaeal microbes, assigned to the Crenarchaeota, that convert ammonia to nitrites.


The three processes above remove nitrogen from the atmosphere and pass it through ecosystems. And denitrification reduces nitrates to nitrogen gas, thus replenishing the atmosphere.

Carbon cycle

Carbon exists in the nonliving environment as: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolved in water, carbonate rocks.

Carbon enters the biotic world through the action of autotrophs like plants and algae, that use the energy of light to convert carbon dioxide to organic matter. Links to photosynthesis and to a small extent, chemoautotroph – bacteria and archaea that do the same but use the energy derived from an oxidation of molecules in their substrate. Carbon returns to the atmosphere and water by respiration, burning and decay.

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse effect is always be treated as negative terms. The negative concerns are related to the possible impacts of an enhanced greenhouse effect. This is covered in more detail in the Global Climate Change section of this Web site. It is important to remember that without the greenhouse effect, life on earth as we know it would not be possible.

While the earth’s temperature is dependent on greenhouse-like action of the atmosphere, the amount of heating and cooling are influenced by several factors is like greenhouses are affected by some factors.

In the atmospheric greenhouse effect, the type of surface that sunlight first encounters is the most important factor. Grasslands, forests, ocean surfaces, deserts, and cities all absorb, reflect, and radiate radiation differently. Sunlight falling on a white glacier surface strongly reflects back into space, resulting in minimal heating of the surface and lower atmosphere. Sunlight falling on a dark desert soil is strongly absorbed, on the other hand, and contributes to significant heating of the surface and lower atmosphere. Cloud cover also affects greenhouse warming by both reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface and by reducing the amount of radiation energy emitted into space.

The consequences of pollution around the world and South Africa:

All of land pollution, air pollution and water pollution can affect wildlife, plants, and humans in a number of ways, such as:

Lead to birth defects.

Cause various kinds of cancers.

People cannot eat fish and any animals.

People cannot breathe.

People cannot live anymore.

The consequences like people build up industries, industries make pollution, and people cannot live because of pollutions.


People should be educated and made aware about the harmful effects of littering

Items used for domestic purposes ought to be reused or recycled.

Personal litter should be disposed properly.

Organic waste matter should be disposed in areas that are far away from residential places.

Inorganic matter such as paper, plastic, glass and metals should be reclaimed and then recycled.

Decreases amount of industries.

Save water.

Plant trees and flowers…

Conclusion and recommendation:

Through this research, I think that human’s activities effect environment a lot. People cannot live without good environment, everything is connected to human. People should respect environment and set a good relationship with it.

According to this research, people will get some knowledge of resources such as the kind of energy resources, are whether renewable or non-renewable and how to exploit mineral resources. People will realize how much hurt they have made to environment.

This research is worth to do and read; it teaches and tells people the truth of the world.

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