The natural resources inexhaustible type, also called renewable, are those that are not spent, that is, they can be used indefinitely. For instance: solar energy, wind energy.
They differ from exhaustible resources or non-renewable, which are those that either cannot be produced again, or are produced at a much slower rate than they are consumed (for example, wood). Some examples of exhaustible resources are oil, some metals, and natural gas.
Today, most of the Energy that we consume globally comes from exhaustible resources. We use that energy for electricity, heating, in industry and in transportation. Although these energy sources have the advantages of being constant in space and time, they have the disadvantage not only that they will end in the medium term but also that they produce a large amount of polluting gases. Therefore, it is seeking to replace them with inexhaustible resources.
Characteristics of inexhaustible resources
- Do not run out. For example: the wind, or they are renewable, that is, they can be produced at a higher speed than they are consumed, for example some crops, which are used to generate fuels such as biodiesel.
- Intensity inconsistency. They are fickle both in time and space, for example, we cannot have solar energy all the time, since it lets it be present at night or when the sky is overcast. With regard to space, there are regions in which wind energy can be harnessed, because the winds are intense, while in others they are not.
- Scattered intensity. The intensity of the energy in general must be obtained from a very large area, for example it is necessary to use a large number of solar panels to obtain the necessary energy. In other words, the energy per square meter is low, making it expensive to obtain. However, it is independent, since, unlike for example electrical energy, it does not need to be connected to a network.
- Clean energies. Unlike fossil fuels, they do not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Examples of inexhaustible resources
- Solar energy. The sun emits radiation of which our planet receives such a large amount that in just one hour it is enough to satisfy the energy needs of the whole world for a year. The technology that uses this energy is single photovoltaic energy. A device called a photovoltaic cell is used. To a lesser extent, thermoelectric solar energy is also used, which uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a small surface, converting solar energy into heat, which drives a heat engine that generates electricity.
- Wind power. The energy that comes from the wind is harnessed through the rotation of wind turbines. The wind turbines that we currently see in the shape of large white windmills with three thin blades are called wind turbines. They were created in 1980 in Denmark.
- Hydroelectric power. It uses the kinetic and potential energy of moving water, that is, rivers, waterfalls and oceans. The most common way of obtaining hydroelectric energy is hydroelectric power plants. Although it has the advantage of not emitting polluting substances and of being an inexhaustible resource, it has a great environmental impact due to the flooding produced by hydroelectric plants.
- Geothermal energy. Inside, our planet has heat, which can be used to generate energy. Temperature increases with depth. Although the earth is cold on the surface, we can observe the effects of the earth’s heat on geysers, hot springs, and volcanic eruptions.
- Biofuels. It is not a specifically inexhaustible source but more precisely renewable, that is, it can be produced at a much higher rate than its consumption. From crops such as corn, sugar cane, sunflower or millet, alcohols or oils can be created to be used as fuel. Its carbon dioxide emission is significantly less than that emitted by fossil fuels such as oil.