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ZingPath: Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy Sources

Nonrenewable Energy Sources

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Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy Sources

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Lesson Focus

Nonrenewable Energy Sources


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Students endeavor to meet the energy needs of an island by using nonrenewable energy sources.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that one benefit of using nonrenewable energy resources is that they can be more efficient than competing resources.
  • Explain that all nonrenewable energy resources have drawbacks and give examples.
  • List some areas where building facilities for nonrenewable energy sources may not be an option and explain why.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Energy sources are needed to power our modern lives and are an important concern in homes, businesses, manufacturing, and transportation. The supply and demand of energy sources plays an ongoing and significant role in our economy and national security. Two types of energy used to power our world include renewable and nonrenewable sources. Renewable energy sources, those that are naturally replenished, include hydroelectricity, solar power, tidal power, and wind. Nonrenewable energy sources, those that are finite and will eventually dwindle or become too expensive or environmentally damaging to maintain, include non-fossil and fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is a non-fossil fuel, and coal, gas, and oil are fossil fuels. These have been used for years, and we continue to research ways to make the use of these resources cleaner and safer.

While one benefit of using nonrenewable energy sources is that they can be more efficient than competing resources, all nonrenewable energy sources have their drawbacks. For example, natural gas is not available everywhere, and its usage as fuel causes carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. Like natural gas, coal is also not available everywhere, and burning coal causes heavy emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other dangerous particles. Compared to fossil fuels, nuclear energy is cleaner. Although nuclear power plants do not emit harmful gases, used nuclear fuel is radioactive. Radioactive waste can threaten both people and the environment. Another problem with nuclear power plants is that they need water to produce electricity. The used water near nuclear power plants gets warmer and warmer, and this leads to the deaths of some marine life.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 40 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should understand the concept of energy and recognize a variety of energy sources.
Course Physics
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary coal plant, gas turbine plant, energy