Renewable energy is considered to be an energy resource that is continuously being replaced such as solar, wind, wave, hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal. Biomass (that is things we grow and burn) is considered to be renewable because it can be replaced in a short period of time.

Non-renewable energy resources include coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy. The earth has a finite amount of each of these resources. It is quite likely that we will run out of some (or maybe all) of these in this and the next century.


It is important both to society and to students in examination to properly consider the advantages and disadvantages of all the possible energy resources that are available. Some may be fairly cheap and easy to find but then damage the environment. Some may seem to be renewable and clean but then expensive to set up or unreliable. The balance and the best solutions are likely to be different in different places.

  • The cost of setting up the power plant to convert the resource to electricity
  • The cost of the resource
  • The reliability and security of the supply
  • The long term prospects (is the fuel renewable?)
  • The environmental effect of obtaining it and then using it.
  • Safety issues.
  • The storage of energy and the response of power plants for peak-time use.
Useful connected pages include: