What Are Exhaustible and Inexhaustible Resources?

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An inexhaustible resource is one that is replaceable, while an exhaustible resource is not replaceable, according to the University of Missouri. Experts sometimes disagree about the category to which a particular resource belongs. For example, soil is replaceable, but it takes so long to create new soil, that some experts classify it as an exhaustible resource.

The difference between exhaustible and inexhaustible is extremely important. If an exhaustible resource is not conserved, it ultimately disappears. For this reason, energy conservation, which requires people to use exhaustible resources such as fossil fuels responsibly, is necessary to maintain a sufficient supply of fuels, such as oil and coal, for the long term.

Inexhaustible resources include wind, water and sunlight. Because these resources are replaceable, technologies that use them for energy creation are becoming more prevalent. A good example of using an inexhaustible resource in this way is solar energy. Solar panels collect the energy from the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to power a home or building.

Another type of technology that relies on an inexhaustible resource is the wind turbine. This machine collects energy from the wind and uses it to create electrical power. Because the wind is replaceable, the machine has a constant source of energy.