Why Is Solar Energy Renewable?
Everyone knows that solar energy is renewable, but why is solar energy renewable? What makes it different from oil or coal burning energy sources? This difference is between renewable and nonrenewable resources. So let’s talk a bit about these two so you don’t find yourself asking: why is solar energy renewable vs nonrenewable?
There are Two Types of Resources:
- Nonrenewable Resources
- Renewable Resources
Many of us remember being taught that oil and coal are nonrenewable resources, but what makes that the case? We burn the coal we have, we go and mine some more and burn that, same with oil, burn it and drill some more. If that’s not renewable then why is solar energy renewable?
The main issue that prevents coal and oil from being renewable, and hence puts them in the nonrenewable category for sources of energy, is that though we’re able to get more for now, there is a limit. There is only so much coal and oil to pull out of the ground before it’s all used up. Sure we find a pocket of oil here or a new coal vein to mine there but the world we live on is only so big and once these resources have been burned they’re gone in a puff of smoke and a pile of ash and cinder.
So looking at those two examples we can see why they aren’t renewable, but why is solar energy renewable? Is it because there’s more or something? Let’s take a look at a breakdown of renewable resources.
What makes a resource renewable vs nonrenewable is that while a nonrenewable resource is finite, a renewable is infinite. Sunlight, like other renewable resources, is constant. You might say that it isn’t because when you look out the window at night the sun isn’t there, but you’d only be half right.
The sun is actually still burning away on the other side of the globe continuing to provide its limitless free energy to the planet, and even providing some, if greatly reduced, light to this side through the refraction of light in the Earth’s atmosphere. Additionally, light is not the only type of solar energy we’ve been able to harness from the sun.
We’ve also been able to benefit from trapping the heat put off by that same solar energy which can be stored and used to power hot water heating systems or heaters for peoples homes. Now the answer to the question of: why is solar energy renewable, should be getting a little clearer. Other resources that can be considered renewable are ones like electricity generated from dams, or wind turbines. This is due to these methods of generating power relying on a naturally occurring process that will repeat itself without end, much like the rising of the sun each day and the outpour of light that shines down from it. Renewable energy sources like this are more reliable and easier to keep in running order than fuel based nonrenewable energy sources.
It shouldn’t be hard now to let people know the answer when they ask you ‘why is solar energy renewable?’, and afterwards you can ask them the tougher question: Since we know it’s renewable, why aren’t we using it more?