Renewable resources (also known as infinite or inexhaustible resources ) are those that regenerate naturally and sufficiently over time, in relation to their exploitation by human beings.
These resources are neither depleted nor diminished by their use, making them sustainable resources in the long term. In this sense, they are the opposite of non-renewable resources.
What Are Renewable Resources?
Renewable resources are natural resources that are replenished naturally over time, either through ecological cycles or human activities.
Renewable resources play a crucial role in sustainable energy production, as they have lower environmental impacts and contribute to reducing dependence on finite fossil fuels.
Most Important Renewable Resources:
Among the most important renewable resources are:
- Fertile lands
- Ocean currents
- Earth heat (geothermal energy)
11 Examples Of Renewable Resources:
Among the main renewable resources we find some energy sources, such as the sun or wind, and also resources obtained directly or indirectly.
Here we leave you 11 examples of renewable resources.
This is the energy emitted by the sun and is collected mainly through light. It is abundant throughout the world, although there are certain geographical areas where the sun hits more directly and constantly , so they receive a greater amount of sunlight on average per year.
As a source of energy, sunlight is used to generate heat and electricity primarily. Specifically, we obtain thermal energy and photovoltaic energy from sunlight.
Among the ways in which sunlight is collected and exploited are:
- Solar panels , which collect light and transform it into electricity.
- Solar thermal systems , which use light to heat fluids, generate steam and thus provide heat.
From the wind we obtain wind energy. It is a resource and a source of renewable energy. It is capable of generating electricity and providing motor power. Although it arrives intermittently , it is never exhausted, since the air is in constant movement , whether its intensity is greater or less.
It is obtained by converting wind energy into mechanical energy and subsequently into electricity. This is done by using different tools. Among the most important are the windmills. They are also known as wind turbines and are structures capable of collecting and processing the energy caused by the wind. Equipped with blades, they rotate depending on the wind that reaches them and obtain electricity through a generator.
Once the electricity is obtained, it is normally used and distributed through the electrical network, to make it reach different spaces.
It is a renewable energy source, which is found in different places on earth (in the form of rivers, lakes, etc.) and is vital for the subsistence of human beings. It is regenerated through the hydrological cycle, which includes four processes:
- Evaporation: water turns into water vapor and rises into the atmosphere.
- Condensation: water condenses as a mass in the atmosphere.
- Precipitation: Water returns to the earth through different forms of precipitation (rain, snow, hail).
- Runoff: water is distributed within the earth, through processes such as melting ice, the flow of rivers, the natural desalination of the seas, etc.
Additionally, water can seep through the Earth’s surface and remain there in the form of underground aquifers.
This allows water to be renewed and available in different forms and places throughout the planet. However, although water is a renewable resource, it is not an infinite resource. Therefore, to guarantee the long-term sustainability of water, responsible management of this resource is needed.
There are different ways of collecting and using water, which includes the desalination of seawater and the processing of water for human use and consumption.
4. Fertile soil or land
It is a crucial natural resource for human beings and for life on our planet. It is considered renewable, since the soil regenerates automatically and constantly . The formation of different fertile soils usually occurs over extremely long periods of time (hundreds or thousands of years).
Soil acts as a storehouse of nutrients essential for plant growth and life in general. Nutrients are recycled through biological processes, allowing the soil to maintain its fertility. This process is known as the fertile cycle .
However, like water, soil requires responsible use to guarantee its sustainability. Therefore, the practice of agriculture , which has been carried out by humans for thousands of years, requires crop rotation and soil conservation . This allows for the cultivation and collection of a large amount of food and resources.
The influence of the moon (and to a lesser extent that of the sun) causes tides, which are based on patterns of movement of the sea and oceans. This produces energy in a predictable and inexhaustible way, which is why this phenomenon is considered an infinite and inexhaustible natural resource.
The energy obtained from the tides is known as tidal energy , by capturing and converting the movement of water into mechanical energy and subsequently into electricity. To collect tidal energy (and convert it into electricity) different mechanisms are used:
- Dams : These are structures built to control the flow of water. As the tide rises, water accumulates behind the dam. On the other hand, when the tide goes out, water is released through turbines and electricity is generated.
- Tidal turbines – These are devices that can be installed on the seabed or submerged structures to capture the flow of incoming and outgoing water during tides. These turbines rotate with the flow of water and generate electricity.
Tides, as sources of energy, are very constant and predictable, but they are limited to the coastal areas of the planet.
6. Marine currents
These are continuous flows of moving water within seas and oceans. They are flows similar to those that occur in rivers, although in this case they are caused by different factors, from the salinity of the water to the rotation of the earth, including temperature or wind.
The force of its movement (predictable) can be used as a source of renewable energy. This type of energy is called tidal current energy .
Different technologies are used to generate electricity through marine currents.
- Marine current turbines : these are turbines that rotate with the force exerted by the current, thus generating electricity and mechanical energy. They are installed in underwater areas around the world.
- Floating platforms : These are structures attached to the ocean floor. Devices that move with the flow of currents can be installed in them. This activates the generators that produce electricity.
7. Heat or geothermal energy
The heat that is produced and stored naturally inside the Earth is known as geothermal energy .
As a resource it is inexhaustible and infinite and, therefore, a source of renewable energy. Geothermal energy is used to generate electricity and heating. But to obtain it, heat needs to be transferred from the Earth’s core to the surface.
This can be achieved by disintegrating elements within the planet.
This is done, mainly, with two elements:
- Wells : Wells are built to access the interior of the Earth’s crust.
- Dry steam geothermal plants : these are installations where the heat or water vapor that comes out of wells is used to generate electricity.
This energy source is widely used to generate a heating system.
Biomass is organic matter : both plant and animal origin. It comes from elements such as manure, wood, agricultural waste, crop remains and other biological materials.
Organic matter can be used as a source of energy if a series of processes are carried out on it. These are:
- Combustion or direct burning : it is the most basic process. Through combustion, biomass is burned directly to generate heat, either for domestic heating or to generate steam in power plants.
- Burning in turbines : biomass is burned to produce steam that drives a turbine connected to an electrical generator. This process is known as generating electricity from biomass.
- Gasification : through a gasification process, biomass is transformed into a synthesis gas. This gas is then used to generate electricity or produce heat.
- Transformation into biofuels : biomass contains vegetable oils and sugars, which can be converted into biofuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol. These can be used in vehicles and machinery, replacing fossil fuels.
- Transformation into biogas : through a certain decomposition process, biomass produces biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be used for electricity generation and heating.
With flora we refer to the set of plants and vegetables of a particular ecosystem. In this sense, it is one of the most important natural resources that human beings have on the planet. And it is a renewable resource because it regenerates naturally and automatically , through medium and long-term processes .
However, its exploitation requires responsible management to avoid its exhaustion or decline.
Flora, as a resource, is very useful for human beings, providing us with: food, materials (with which to produce objects of all kinds) , medicines, spaces to stay or protect, etc.
Furthermore, it has been used as a resource since homo sapiens inhabited the Earth, but the extinction of certain plant species or the conversion of rich ecosystems into monocultures can endanger this resource.
By fauna we refer to the set of animals that inhabit a particular ecosystem. Therefore, like flora, it is much more than a resource for human beings. And it has also been used since the origin of humanity.
Fauna provides human beings with food, materials with which to dress or protect themselves, as well as elements of all kinds, which are used in different industries.
As a resource, fauna is not unlimited. But if fauna is managed properly it can be considered a renewable resource. To achieve this, it is necessary to avoid poaching and exhaustive exploitation of livestock resources, as well as trawling and other practices that may endanger the diversity of ecosystems.
It is also necessary to take into account which species of animals can be hunted or fished sustainably and which must be preserved, due to their fragility or limited population.
It is one of the most used natural resources on our planet. It can be considered a renewable resource, since its regeneration capacity exceeds that of exploitation , if this is done responsibly.
Wood, which is obtained from trees, has a very complete list of uses by humans for thousands of years. Currently, it is mainly used in construction, paper and cardboard production, furniture industry, etc. And also in energy production.
However, numerous ecological and environmental organizations warn that for wood to continue being a renewable resource, it is essential to avoid massive deforestation of certain geographic areas of the planet . Something that can occur, either by indiscriminate logging or by fires, which have the capacity to devastate hectares and hectares of forests in hours or days. Fires, in turn, can be provoked or spontaneous and the fight against them is essential for the preservation of this natural resource.
Difference between renewable resources and non-renewable resources
As we see, what differentiates non-renewable resources from renewable ones is, fundamentally, their capacity for regeneration . If this is superior to the exploitation that human beings make of them, we can talk about renewable resources.
This also implies that many resources that are renewable today, such as wood or fresh water, could become non-renewable resources if they are not used responsibly.
Advantages and challenges of renewable resources
The advantages of using non-renewable energy are multiple. The main ones are related to environmental sustainability, the abundance and availability of these resources compared to non-renewable ones.
Also energy independence , which allows this energy to be replaced by fossil fuels, which have been proven extremely harmful to the environment.
In addition, its defenders also argue that the use of renewable resources promotes long-term economic growth, reduces the production costs of a large number of products and diversifies energy production.
On the other hand, renewable resources also present great challenges . Some resources, such as wind, are intermittent. Others, however, depend on the geographical area or the management carried out on them.
Furthermore, the exploitation of these resources often requires a large initial investment or there is not enough infrastructure for their exploitation.
Therefore, the creation of these structures and their gradual implementation worldwide is today one of the great challenges facing humanity.
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