Non Renewable Energy Sources

Petrol and diesel extracted from crude oil are commonly used to run different kinds of vehicles, such as cars, buses, tractors, trucks, trains, and aeroplanes. Similarly, kerosene and natural gas are used as fuels in lamps and stoves. Crude oil, coal and natural gas occur in limited and exhaustible quantities. They cannot be regenerated in a short period of time or used again and again. Hence, they are called non-renewable sources of energy.

At present we get most of our energy from non-renewable energy sources which include fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas. Looking at the present and future energy requirements, it is expected that oil and natural gas reserves may last for another 30-35 years. Similarly, the coal reserves may last no longer than another 100 years. So, we must use these non-renewable energy sources judicially and avoid all wastages.

Radioactive elements like natural uranium are also non-renewable. When the atoms of uranium are split into two or more parts, a very large amount of energy is released which can be used to generate electrical energy.

Fossil Fuels: Conventional Source of Energy

Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, are important non-renewable sources of energy. Since the beginning of mankind, we have been using fossil fuels to generate heat, light and electricity for various purposes. These are the primary sources for generating electrical energy in the world today.

Carbon is the main constituent of these fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are excellent sources of energy for our transportation needs. A large amount of chemical energy is stored in the fossil fuels. This stored chemical energy is converted into various other forms of energy such as heat, light and mechanical energy.

How the fossil fuels are formed? Millions of years ago the remains of dead plants and animals were buried under the ground. Over the years by the action of heat from the Earth’s core and pressure from rock and soil, these buried and decomposed organic materials have been converted into fossil fuels.

Advantages of Energy from Fossil Fuels

  • Generation of energy from the fossil fuels technology-wise is easy and relatively cost effective.
  • Fossil fuels have a very high calorific value.
  • Fossil fuels can generate huge amounts of electricity in just a single location.
  • Transportation of fossil fuels like oil and gas to the power stations can be made through the use of pipe-lines, making it an easy task.
  • Power plants that utilize gas are very efficient.
  • Construction of power plants that work on fossil fuels is relatively easy technology-wise and they can be constructed in almost any location.

Disadvantages of Energy from Fossil Fuels

  • Pollution is a major disadvantage of using fossil fuels as source of energy. During the process of combustion of fossil fuels a lot of toxic gases (and fly-ash in case of coal) are generated which cause pollution of the atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide, which traps the Sun’s heat and may be causing global warming. Besides carbon dioxide, coal also gives off sulphur dioxide which may cause acid rain.
  • The supply of fossil fuels is limited and cannot be replenished. The rate at which they are being consumed, their reservoirs are sure to run out soon.
  • Extraction of fossil fuels including coal has resulted in the destruction of wide areas of land and has endangered the environmental balance in some areas.
  • Mining of fossil fuels including coal is difficult and rated as one of the most dangerous jobs. Many a times, it endangers the lives of miners.
  • Use of natural gas can cause unpleasant smell in the area.