What is non-renewable energy?
Energy exists freely in nature. Some of them exist infinitely (never run out, called RENEWABLE), the rest have finite amounts (they took millions of years to form, and will run out one day, called NON-RENEWABLE).
Non-renewable energy is energy from fossil fuels (coal, crude oil, natural gas) and uranium. Fossil fuels are mainly made up of Carbon. It is believed that fossil fuels were formed over 300 million years ago, when the earth was a lot different in its landscape. It had swampy forests and very shallow seas. This time is referred to as 'Carboniferous Period'
Fossil fuels are usually found in one location as their formation is from a similar process. Let us take a look at the diagram below to see how fossil fuels are formed:
1. Millions of years ago, dead sea organisms, plants and animals settled on the ocean floor and in the porous rocks. These organic matter had stored energy in them as they used the sun's energy to prepare foods (proteins) for themselves (photosynthesis).
2. With time, sand, sediments and impermeable rock settled on the organic matter, trapping its' energy within the porous rocks. That formed pockets of coal, oil and natural gas.
3. Earth movements and rock shifts creates spaces that force to collect these energy types into well-defined areas. With the help of technology, engineers are able to drill down into the sea bed to tap the stored energy, which we commonly know as crude oil.
The good thing is about fossil fuels is:
Unlike many renewable sources of energy, fossil fuels are relatively less expensive to produce. This is probably why it is in higher demand as it tend to cost less.
The bad thing about fossil fuels is:
Fossil fuels are made up mainly of carbon. When they are burned (used) they produce a lot of carbon compounds (carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases) that hurt the environment in many ways. Air, water and land pollution are all consequences of using fossil fuels.
In the pages that follow, we shall take a look at what each source of non-renewable energy is made of, and how they are used.
Note that not all non-renewable energy comes from fossil fuels. There is also uranium, which is not a fossil fuel.