We have already seen what renewable energy is and what sustainable energy is. It’s already been discussed that the terms are being used interchangeably. Hence here in this topic we re going to see whether sustainable energy and renewable energy are same or are they different. If they are the same, how and if vice versa, it’s reasons too. We shall also see how renewable energies are sustainable and those renewable energies that are not sustainable. Come, lets us go through them with possible examples.
Let us quickly go through, what renewable energy is and what sustainable energy is. This is for those who haven’t gone through our topics of sustainable energy and renewable energy. For those who have already gone through them, please skip on to the tables of similarities and difference between them.
Defining Renewable energy:
Energy that is being used from renewable sources that get replenished naturally over a period of time are called renewable energy. Almost all renewable energy is sustainable but few are not.
Defining sustainable energy:
Energy that meets the need of present and future equally and that can be used or exploited without bearing the fear in mind of depletion are called as sustainable energy.
Analysing the terms renewable and sustainable
The term renewable means that is being produced again and again and that doesn’t get depleted on constant use. The term sustainable means, that which is able to be maintained at a certain level according to Oxford Dictionary. In the context of energy sustainability, it is fulfilling the needs of current generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
Both sustainable energy and renewable energy are so significant for the planet Earth but it is often seen that the terms sustainable energy and renewable energy are being used interchangeably. But this is not right as they both are not the same. Both have similarities but not the same. All renewable energy is not sustainable energy and all sustainable energy are not renewable energy.
Difference between sustainable energy and renewable energy:
The main differences between them are:
- Renewable energy is energy that get renewed again and again. Hence letting us use energy and meet our needs. For e.g., solar, wind, hydro power, bio mass etc
Sustainable energy focuses on satisfying our present needs and at the same time seeing that future needs are not compromised. For e.g., solar, wind, hydro power.
- All renewable energy is not sustainable. Our environment profits from making the renewable energy sustainable. Few renewable energies are unsustainable. For e.g.: bio fuels.
Likewise, all sustainable energy is not renewable as few non-renewable energies when used conservatively then it become sustainable. Coal, natural gas etc are example of such ones. The focus of sustainability is that whether it is available today as well as tomorrow.
Hence, we now have a clear understanding that both renewable energy and sustainable energy are different. The fact is that there are so many renewable energies that are sustainable but there are few which are not sustainable. Moreover, renewable energy is economically sustainable prima facie is the one of the ever-best advantage of it.
How renewable energy is sustainable?
We already discussed about the fact that most of the renewable energy are sustainable except few. But why are renewable energies being sustainable is what we have to discuss further.
- Naturally replenishing:
One of the basic characteristics of sustainable energy is that such energies should be naturally replenishing. The term renewable itself suggests that it gets renewed. The best examples of renewable energy that are sustainable are wind, solar, hydro power etc; because they are abundantly available and naturally replenished. Being it naturally replenishing, there is no worry that whether it will be available in the future.
- Does not create pollution:
Another important characteristic is applying the question of amount of pollution caused while producing energy. An energy is considered unsustainable if it pollutes the air or creates any kind of pollution to the environment during the conversion to energy happens. Renewable energy is called as clean energy, as it does not cause any kind of harmful effects to the environment. Thus, satisfying another rule of sustainability.
- Abundant availability:
Wide availability is another characteristic of sustainability as it need to be used without compromising the needs of present. In order for using an energy abundantly, it should be available in plenty is a basic logic. It is almost impossible to runout of the renewable energy like solar and wind. It keeps on getting produced and abundantly available as the environment cycles happen on the planet Earth in the regular intervals. Thus, that characteristic is also satisfied.
When we talk about renewable energy being sustainable, we need to keep in mind that all renewable energy is not sustainable. The best examples of such renewable energy are biomass and nuclear energy. These two even being renewable are not sustainable.
Renewable energy that are not sustainable
It is a well-known fact that all energies are not sustainable. When energy is divided into renewable and non-renewable energy, for making it more convenient some demand renewable energy to be sustainable and non-renewable to be unsustainable. But through this article we have clearly shown that
- renewable energy and sustainable energy are different.
- there are few renewable energies that are non-sustainable.
- there are few non-renewable energies that are sustainable.
Let us understand the renewable energies that are not sustainable:
- Bio fuels: it gives us energy on burning organic materials like wood. For this wood to be burned, forests are being cut down at a very large scale resulting in deforestation. The burning of such organic materials releases green house gases which are harmful the environment. Thus, the two characteristics of sustainability such as; energy production is not harming the environment and no pollution should be caused to the environment, are not being debased by bio fuels. Thus, making bio fuels unsustainable even though it is considered a renewable energy.
- Nuclear energy: it gives us energy and is called to be renewable energy. The reason why it is not sustainable is because it generates nuclear waste that are dangerously harmful to the environment. This nuclear waste would take a minimum of 1000 years to 10,000 years to be inactive and to stop releasing harmful radioactive waves to the environment. This sole reason is against the sustainability character of energy that it causes pollution to the environment. Hence, making this renewable energy to be unsustainable.
Safeguarding the future life of the planet Earth is the responsibility of each man here. Human are considered to safe guard instead of spoiling this World. The hands-on practicality and knowledge have to be applied to protect the environment and achieve sustainability.
It is good to see that many countries around the World understand and identify the steps to achieve sustainability, as sustainable development has gained more popularity across the World. Sustainable development being considered so popular, the needs of the future generations shall also be taken into consideration while we live our present life. Their basic needs such as their quality of air, water food, availability of energy, sanitation etc. shall be taken in to consideration. Renewable energy that are sustainable has to be given weightage than the non-sustainable ones for a better life.