Renewable Resource

Last updated: March 29, 2024

What Does Renewable Resource Mean?

A renewable resource is a substance that replenishes itself or is replaced regularly by its environment.

Typically, a resource has to renew itself in a relatively short time span to be considered renewable. More fossil fuels can be generated over time, for instance, but since this process takes millions of years, it is considered a non-renewable resource.

Renewable resources are more desirable than non-renewable resources, since they can be replenished and used continuously without fully being depleted.

Safeopedia Explains Renewable Resource

Common examples of renewable resources include:

  • Geothermal energy, since it harnesses heat from the earth
  • Solar energy, snice sunlight can be harnessed without reducing the amount available
  • Biofuels, which are made from living organisms that can reproduce
  • Biodiesel, which is derived from vegetable oil that is itself a renewable resource
  • Firewood, as more trees can be planted and harvested each year
  • Hydroelectricity, since it is derived from the movement of water without depleting it

Renewable vs. Non-Renewable Resources

While renewable resources have the advantage of being continuously available and usually environmentally sustainable, many organizations opt to use non-renewable resources instead. Some of the reasons for favoring these over renewable resources can include:

  • Being readily available (some non-renewable resources are cyclical, like agricultural crops, and are not abundant year round)
  • Being more reliable (solar energy can fluctuate based on weather patterns, with cloudy and stormy days providing little solar input)
  • Convenience (heating with natural gas, for instance, can require less effort than using firewood)
  • Cost effectiveness (plastic is often less expensive than wood or other renewable materials)
  • Infrastructure (while wind energy might be desirable, it requires building large wind turbines rather than using power plants that are already operational)

Despite this, there is a continued push across industries, from advocacy groups, and by non-profits to increase the use of renewable resources. This is primarily to reduce the rate of pollution and waste caused by the use non-renewables and to slow the effects of climate change, but also to avoid the economic and market disruptions that could occur when a renewable resource is fully depleted.

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