While often regarded as interchangeable, “sustainable” and “renewable” are terms with h different meanings. In an “Energy Education” article the University of Calgary posted online, the university clarified the distinctions in the definitions of the two. Although many firms, experts, and entrepreneurs might continue to substitute one word for the other, when one is applying for government grants, small business grants, USDA grants, USDA guaranteed loans, technology grants, state grants, DOE grants, and other forms of financing, precision in language is vital. It is crucial for applicants to utilize the correct words.
In fact, not all energy sources that are renewable are sustainable, and not all sustainable resources are renewable. As the university piece pointed out, a renewable resource is “one that is naturally replenished with time. Renewable energy is any energy production that uses” a naturally replenishing source.” More can always be generated. However, “if the rate of use exceeds the rate of renewal –that is, the source is used more than it’s being recreated – its continued use will become unsustainable,” the article points out.
Renewable energy is generally taken to mean solar power, wind power, hydropower, tidal power, and geothermal power, the university article pointed out. Resources are considered non-renewable if they take a very long time to be created (fossil fuels are an example) or if their creation happened long ago and is not likely to happen again. Sustainable energy is “energy production that can last for the foreseeable future. Sustainable energy practices must rely on resources which can continue to supply foreseeable needs,” the article points out. “These sources must be used cautiously so that they will not be used up, run out, or otherwise become unusable.” And, the article noted, even renewable resources can become unsustainable.
An additional aspect of the commonly held definition of sustainability is that with sustainable energy use the environment is not significantly damaged due to the accumulated effects of energy practice.
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