What is the difference between renewable and sustainable energy?


Quick Answer

Sustainable energy includes energy forms able to meet the growing needs of humans without compromising future demands, while renewable energy sources are widely available, naturally replenished and have low environmental impact. Some sustainable energy sources are not renewable because of their pollution and other environmental concerns.

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Full Answer

According to Reference.com, in the broadest sense, sustainable energy stretches to include fossil fuels as a transitional source as long as energy providers develop new ways to meet future needs before such sources are no longer available. However, fossil fuels are not renewable due to their limited availability and their environmental impact. Even the narrower sense of sustainable energy includes nuclear energy as it is available for the time frame relevant to the human race. Nuclear energy is not renewable. Due to its environmental impact, political challenges and potential for use in terrorism, nuclear energy remains controversial.

There are choices available which show promise and fit the criteria for sustainable and renewable energy. Wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, hydrogen and biomass energy forms continue to develop, offering minimal impact on the environment and energy for the foreseeable human future. While renewable energy sources require an initial investment, the increasing cost of fossil fuels and concern about global warming are increasing investor interest in them.

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