When we use a source of energy once and cannot reuse it, then it is called the conventional source of energy. A few of these sources are coal, fuel wood, natural gas, and oil. These sources are usually formed from organic materials through heating and compressing over a long period of time. We have been using these conventional sources of energy for years now. But, we should keep several factors in mind. Firstly, they are available in limited quantity, so they must be used carefully. Secondly, it takes centuries for these sources to form. If they are depleted, then we cannot generate them at a speed. With this, let’s take a look at its benefits and its shortcomings.
What are the conventional sources of energy?
There are several conventional sources of energy, such as –
- Fire wood
- Natural gas
- Thermal Power
- Nuclear energy
Advantages of Conventional Sources of Energy
The conventional sources of energy are used a lot because of the advantages it provides. Being the most depended on type of energy, here are some benefits of conventional energy sources.
1. Highly efficient
The conventional sources of energy are highly efficient, and for this reason, it is used for home as well as commercial purposes. Take examples of conventional sources of energy like coal, natural gas, and oil, and compare them with renewable sources of energy like wind or solar energy. You will see that conventional energy sources provide more energy. And, because of this, they are the primary source of power generation worldwide.
2. Well-known source
We know how to use conventional sources of energy, as it is with us for centuries now. Unlike new renewable energy source technology, you don’t have to learn to use them in the right way. Consider fuel woods, they come from natural forests and plantations. And, they are used by people in rural areas in their daily life for various purposes. One such purpose is cooking. Its easy accessibility makes it a well-known source of energy. Most of the nations are dependent on it to fulfill their power requirements.
3. Conventional sources of energy are abundant
We have the conventional sources of energy available to us in abundance. So, it is easily available throughout the year. If you look at renewable sources of energy, you will realize that they are dependent. Consider solar energy, it is dependent on the sun, and wind energy is dependent on the wind (advantages and disadvantages of wind energy). There is no such dependence when it comes to conventional sources of energy. You can make use of them throughout the year. Additionally, it is easy to transport them and their presence in fair quantity makes things simpler.
We know how conventional sources of energy are available in abundance and have been with us for the longest time, so it comes naturally that they are very cost-effective. Many reserves of conventional energy sources have been discovered in the last centuries, making them readily available for consumption. The suppliers of conventional energy sources have their stock in abundance and with this, they are able to meet the energy demands of the consumers.
Since conventional sources of energy are found across the globe, they can be moved conveniently across the borders. Furthermore, they are quite simple to use. Some people find it difficult to use new machines or other sources of energy, so they stick to using traditional sources that are conventional sources of energy. In addition to usage, these sources are quite easy to store, making them a favorable option among the masses. People living in areas where it is difficult to make renewable sources of energy available can use conventional sources of energy easily.
6. Easy to set up a production unit
Since the conventional source of energy is abundant in nature, it is comparatively easier to set up a production unit to produce electricity. Due to the advancement of energy technology, and transportation, one no longer has to be limited by geography. Although water and wind-based energy production units still need favorable locations, the actual setup isn’t that hard. But the consumer solar energy market has seen the most advancement.
Today, homeowners can even install a solar energy unit on their roof without any fanfare and get their electricity. And another fact tells us that many solar farms are running all over the globe as a private and commercial activity, advocating the ease of setting up a conventional energy plant.
Disadvantages of Conventional Sources of Energy
Along with the benefits, we have to deal with the consequences that come along with conventional sources of energy. Here are some drawbacks of conventional energy sources.
1. Makes dependent
We discussed how we have been using conventional energy sources all this time. We are very much dependent on it and because of this, switching to renewable energy sources is becoming difficult. It takes centuries for these sources to form, and we have seen a rise in our consumption rate. If we do not take the required actions now, then we would end up running out of these conventional energy sources, and their slower formation rate will make things worse for us.
2. Causes health problems
When conventional sources of energy are burnt, they emit gases that cause health problems. The most common type of problem observed is respiratory problems. The burning of conventional energy sources pollutes air, water, as well as land. The people who are involved in the mining process are at higher risks. Mining for coals while operating heavy machinery is a dangerous job. The harmful gases are released in the process, and they can lead to explosions. And, if things get worse, then miners struggle to breathe because of these dangerous gases.
3. Creates hazardous byproducts
With conventional sources of energy, there are a number of byproducts that create problems. When coal is burnt, the by-product fly ash is formed. It puts the workers of coal power plants at risk, along with the residents who live nearby the coal ash disposal sites. When fuel woods are burnt, it releases smoke that contains carbon dioxide, water, and other harmful chemicals. The carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other byproducts of conventional sources of energy are hazardous to health.
4. Conventional energy sources will deplete soon
You might have come across campaigns where people are encouraged to switch to renewable sources of energy. The reason behind running such campaigns and similar initiatives is to create awareness among people regarding the depletion of conventional sources of energy. These energy sources are vanishing slowly, and future generations will have to bear the consequences. So, it is important to use it wisely, keeping in mind that it takes billions of years to form.
5. Harms environment
We discussed, in brief, the release of harmful byproducts in the environment, putting millions of lives at risk. Especially when there are accidents where oil-tankers and cargo ships contents are spilled into the water bodies, the consequences are deadly. It puts the health of animals at risk. In addition to this, the humans coming in contact are affected negatively. The oxides released from the burning of conventional sources of energy converts the rain into acidic, causing harm to the wildlife and human beings. A few of the other harmful effects are greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste generation, and depletion of the ozone layer.
6. High initial start up cost
While it is true that a conventional source of energy is far cheaper than its alternative, we do have to heed the high initial cost when setting up the whole project. Constructing a thermal energy plant can net hundreds of millions of dollars, while a traditional nuclear energy power plant costs around $6 billion. Truthfully, in the long run, the cost can be recovered easily even when selling power at a low price, but the initial capital prevents organizations from building these plants as they see fit.