Recently with all the talk of the proposed carbon tax there has been a lot of discussion about renewable versus non-renewable energy. Perhaps introducing some of the basic concepts behind this topic might be useful for people.
What are the current forms of non-renewable energy?
Presently, the main sources of non-renewable energy are fossil fuels. These include coal, petroleum, natural gas and nuclear power which is based on uranium. These energy sources are considered non-renewable because they are based on materials that are finite in nature and cannot be replenished in the Earth's environment over a short time scale.
Currently here in Australia we rely heavily on coal-fire power stations to provide us with electricity and are also significantly connected to petrol for use in our cars.
What are renewable sources of energy?
Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectricity, tidal power and biogas are all typically considered to be renewable sources of energy and are considered as such because they can regenerate naturally. There are even some finite resources such as timber and some metal resources which can produce renewable energy because the resource can either be regenerated (in the case of timber) or recycled (some metals).
Australia has started to invest in some of these energies on a commercial scale, yet the proportion of these types of energy providing electricity to our household is still quite small. There is however the option for you to pay a premium for electricity to obtain"green power", bringing about consumer demand for further investment in these energy types. Alternatively, putting some solar panels onto your roof and then being plugged into the electricity grid has also resulted in an increase in renewable energy available here in Australia.