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Definition And Examples Of Renewable Resources

Planet Earth offers many natural resources

Renewable resources are considered today the future sources of energy that will power our planet with clean electricity and will replace the dirty fossil fuels responsible for the massive pollution of the environment.

What is a Renewable Resource? – Definition

A renewable resource represents today a natural resource that is replenished all the time, so it can be consumed without being depleted for an indefinite period of time.

The renewable resources available on our planet are produced by the Earth’s natural environment and also by the Sun.

The resources of clean and sustainable electricity considered renewable today include solar power, wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy and water under the form of hydroelectric, tidal and wave power.

Examples of Renewable Resources

All these renewable resources that have been discovered by mankind as useful and sustainable resources are available since the beginning, but we have realized that we can use them in our benefit without harming the environment only lately.

1. Biomass

Biomass is mostly represented by wood in the U.S., and is provided by trees and also by food crops (corn), other agricultural and forestry byproducts, algae, and biogas (consisting mostly of methane and carbon dioxide) provided by landfills and any forms of human and animal waste (organic).

Wood is the main source of biomass on the planet and represents a renewable resource because trees grow back.

Mankind uses wood to produce heat during the winter or for everyday cooking since ancient times, but lately we have realized that wood and the forestry byproducts can be burned as fuel for heating water and uses the steam produced this way to spin a turbine and generate clean electricity.

Wood is the main source of biomass

Wood and forestry byproducts are not the only sources of clean and sustainable fuel for electricity and heat generation, the human and animal waste represents another great renewable resource (human and animal waste is produced all the time) that produces biogas and turns the waste into something useful for us (clean electricity).

Food crops (corn) are used today to produce ethanol, which is a clean fuel that along with biodiesel can be used in small proportions in our cars with internal combustion engines to improve performance and reduce the level of emissions released into the atmosphere.

Green algae are another renewable resource that can be used to produce biomass energy.

Waste on planet Earth is produced on a massive scale every day.

All this waste can be turned into useful recycled materials for the industry and as a sustainable source of clean electricity, which in time could replace at least a part of the energy produced today from dirty fossil fuels.

2. Solar

The Sun is sending heat and light towards us since the creation of the planet and will remain here to do the same thing for free for another 5 billion years.

Mankind has started to use the sunlight since ancient times, but only in the last century, we have realized that the Sun represents the most important renewable resource on the planet, which we can use to generate free, clean and sustainable electricity.

We are using the sunlight today in two different forms: active solar and passive solar.

Active solar

Active solar refers to the use of photovoltaic cells that convert the sunlight into clean electricity or the use of large mirrors that concentrate the sunlight into a point located on the top of a tower where an agent (usually molten salt) is heated to produce steam that will spin a turbine to generate clean electricity (solar thermal power).

Passive solar

Passive solar is a concept used in constructions, and refers to a certain position of the house to allow the sunlight enter the house through windows to naturally heat and illuminate the rooms of the house during the winter.

During the summer, the area of the house where the sunlight enters to heat the rooms is closed to avoid overheating.

A passive house uses the sunlight in its advantage and consumes a way smaller amount of energy (tiny energy bills) compared to a regular house.

Solar is a great renewable resource that will replace the dirty fossil fuels in the future.

3. Wind

Wind represents another form of renewable resource that is also produced by the Sun.

The Sun heats the layers of air in the atmosphere in an uneven way, which makes the hot air to rise and the cold air to move down, and this movement of the air layers is the wind.

In contrast to solar, the wind blows day and night, so a wind turbine can produce clean electricity during both day and night.

The power of the wind is also used to navigate at sea, to pump water for irrigation and also to grind grains.

There are many areas on the planet suited for harvesting the kinetic power of the wind and today we have clean technology that can produce clean electricity even if the speed of the wind is low.

Modern wind turbines start generating clean power when the speed of the wind reaches only 7 mph (11 km/h), and they stop working when the wind reaches 55 mph for safety reasons.

Horizontal-axis and vertical-axis wind turbines

A wind turbine turns the kinetic power of the wind into clean electricity with the help of the turbine that spins under the action of the wind.

The rotational speed is increased 100 times using the gear box inside the nacelle of the turbine, and a generator will turn the mechanical power of the wind used to spin the turbine into clean electricity.

Exactly like solar, wind power is a perfect renewable resource that will replace the dirty fossil fuels in a not so far future.

4. Geothermal

Geothermal is another renewable resource that is available for us here on the planet under the form of hot steam and hot water that comes from the underground.

Is considered a renewable resource because geothermal energy is produced by the heat inside the Earth’s core.

The inner core of our planet was created at the birth of the planet and is very hot 10,800 °F (6,000 °C), even hotter than the surface of the Sun.

The hot core of our planet is known as ‘the inner Sun’

The heat is sent from the core of the planet through the manta and the crust and reaches the surface under the form of very hot water and hot steam.

We are using this renewable resource today to heat and cool homes, but also to generate clean electricity using a turbine that spins due to the action of the steam and produces clean electricity with the help of a generator.

Being produced by the very hot core of our planet, geothermal energy is a never ending source of power, which needs to be harnessed to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Geothermal power is a renewable resource that along with the other sources of sustainable and clean energy will power the planet in the future.

5. Water

All the water on planet Earth today, every drop of it is all the water that has ever been here on the planet.

Freshwater is here since millions of years, and is the water that flows under the form of rain and snow into a continuous cycle from the clouds to the surface of the planet, in rivers, in ponds, lakes, seas and oceans, flows in our faucets, is used to irrigate crops, travels through plants using the photosynthesis process, is used to generate clean electricity and eventually evaporates back into the air to form new clouds.

Water cycle is vital for life on planet Earth

The water cycle on our planet takes place in every moment, even if we don’t realize this, and is the process that makes the water to continuously flow.

The water cycle is actually a continuous transfer of water between the different water storages available on the planet.

A water storage is represented by the water in the clouds, the water in our oceans (about 70% of the water available on the planet), in the ice sheets and glaciers on the planet (about 65% of all the freshwater available on the planet), the water in the snow packs located at the top of the mountains, in all the lakes, the rivers, streams, watersheds, wetlands, water in the soil, in plants and trees, the underground water (underground acvifers).

Due to the presence of the water cycle of the planet, all the water located in the water storages is in a continuous movement (continuous flow).

I mentioned above that the volume of water on the planet remains the same all the time, but due to the presence of the water cycle, we can say that water is a renewable resource because is renewed every day.

Water is used today to generate clean electricity using three different technologies.

Hydroelectric power

Hydropower involves the use of large hydroelectric power plants (large dams) that rely on the kinetic power of the flowing water (flows due to the action of gravity) to spin underwater turbines that are producing clean electricity using generators.

Wave energy

This type of clean power represents another source of clean electricity using the kinetic energy of the waves.

Tidal power

Tidal power is also a form of renewable energy that produces clean electricity using underwater turbines (a pretty robust turbine) that spins under the action of the tides.

The kinetic power of the tides spins a large underwater turbine that generates clean electricity with the help of powerful generators.

Water is a renewable resource that is in a continuous move and besides sustaining all the life in the planet, it can be also used to produce clean electricity.


All the renewable resources available on planet Earth today can be used to power the planet with clean, sustainable and free electricity, but we need to use them wisely (especially the resources provided by nature, such as soil, wood and water) to benefit from their amazing potential for a very long period of time.

Article written by:

I am a writer and reporter for the clean energy sector, I cover climate change issues, new clean technologies, sustainability and green cars. Danny Ovy

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