Is Renewable Energy An Alternative Energy?

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: June 27, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

I know you might be going back and forth with this question and its possible answer. 

However, personally whichever answer you pick is correct but not entirely – I’ll explain.

Generally, renewable energy is an alternative source to the traditional way of getting power (fossil fuels). 

But, when you look at alternative energy in-depthly, you would discover its differences from renewable energy.

I know it might seem confusing, I was in your shoes until I researched extensively on renewable and alternative energy.

I know it might seem not very clear, I was in your shoes until I extensively researched renewable and alternative energy.

In addition, I will share some significant examples of alternative energy with you. Let’s dive in!

Is Renewable Energy The Same As Alternative Energy

My take on this topic question stands as NO; it is not. 

Renewable energy differs from the alternative version. 

However, you can find some significant similarities between both energies and that can be utterly confusing.

After researching the topic, I remember a discussion; I discovered that many people could not differentiate between renewable and alternative energy sources. 

It was at this moment; I decided to educate people with my knowledge of it. 

So, if you are one of those persons without prior knowledge of the differences, you are at the right spot. 

This section will reveal some differences between renewable and alternative energy – according to my research and expertise.

  • Finite or Infinite

There’s a general understanding and known fact about renewable energy being an infinite supply of power. 

Renewable energy’s infinite power supply is due to its readily available natural replenishing sources.

On the other hand, you can term alternative energy as finite energy. 

Unlike renewable energy, the alternative version doesn’t replenish naturally or faster than people use it. 

However, some people tend to classify the alternative version as infinite when it relates to solar energy. 

But, generally, alternative energy is a finite source of power.

  • Source

Another area you can identify differences between renewable and alternative energy is in their power sources. 

Renewable energy is a naturally occurring power source that “by itself” replenishes without any human intervention. 

If you look at alternative energy, you will discover that it is not always of natural occurrence. 

For instance, natural gas as an alternative energy source comes from the injection of pressure or fracking of subterranean rock crevices. 

Notwithstanding, some of its power sources occur naturally, but it is widely unnatural. 

I know it might be confusing, but it is pretty understandable; just stick with me.

  • Terminology

I think this is where you would finally understand the significant difference and find some similarities as well. 

Alternative energy is a broader term used to classify different power sources together.

It could be finite/infinite or naturally/unnaturally occurring; regardless, it is a broader term. 

Whereas renewable energy is a type of alternative energy – but differs from it.

The “alternative” is because it was a different source of power from the traditional fossil fuels. 

For instance, in 2019, renewable energy generated about 11% of the total power in the U.S – making it an alternative source. 

  • Nuclear Inclusion

As earlier stated in the source and definition, you now know renewable energy significantly occurs naturally while the alternative version has different occurrences. 

Also, renewable energy uses natural phenomenons like solar and wind power.

However, alternative energy uses nuclear power as a source to generate electricity. 

You can not consider nuclear power as renewable energy because the supply of uranium is finite, and it may only last for about ninety years.

Regardless, some experts try not to consider nuclear power as viable alternative energy because of the radioactivity of its waste. 

Statistically, the U.S 2019 energy generation saw nuclear power contributing about 8% to the nation’s electricity.

Similarities Of Alternative Energy And Renewable Energy

As earlier stated in this article, renewable energy is a type of alternative power source. 

Furthermore, the confusion between both energies is traceable because they are different but have some similarities.

I have highlighted some differences between both energies; now, I will reveal the similarities they share. 

Some of the similarities between alternative and renewable energy include;

  • Clean Energies

I believe the central reason for introducing a new type of energy aside from fossil fuels is the eco-friendly nature it presents. 

Both alternative and renewable energy are clean forms of power sources that do not cause environmental harm.

In addition, both energy sources do not add any greenhouse gases that contribute to the rise in global warming

And this makes clean energy a top priority for many developing nations worldwide.

However, according to some environmental experts, alternative energy (like hydroelectric power) can sometimes emit greenhouse gases during production of massive cement quantities. 

Nevertheless, alternative energy still gets classified as a clean source of power.

  • Low Carbon Emissions

Alternative and renewable energy are famous for their low to zero carbon emissions. 

Although alternative energy is a finite power source, it also works to cut down the emissions of carbon substances when put to use.

For instance, when both alternative and renewable energies use wind or solar power, it eliminates carbon emissions by 100%. 

The idea of these energies is to be as clean as possible to reduce environmental pollution. 

  • Power Generation

In terms of power generation, alternative and renewable energy have proven to be a reliable source for a nation’s electricity. 

However, because alternative energy is still fresh on the market, it is yet to replace fossil fuel usage fully.

Both alternative and renewable energy generate high power that can run several sectors in a nation. 

However, the sustainability of alternative energy is questionable because of its finite nature.

What Are Examples Of Alternative Energy?

In recent times, there has been more creation of alternative energy technology. 

Furthermore, the general populace is gradually shifting towards environmental awareness to reduce carbon emissions and footprints.

Let’s see some examples of popular alternative energies used today;

  • Geothermal Power

Geothermal power is a type of alternative energy that experts extract from the ground. 

This power source extracts the heat from the earth’s core and uses it to generate energy.

  • Tidal Energy

Tidal energy uses sea tides to generate power similar to the hydroelectric method. 

You can consider this source of power more predictable than the sun or wind energy. However, this energy is a new technology with untested potential.

  • Wave Energy

This type of alternative energy is slightly similar to the tidal version, but experts find it more advantageous. 

It uses oceanic waves to generate power, and it is often more reliable than other forms of alternative; however, it is pretty expensive.

  • Wind Energy

This is a popular type of energy technology as it harnesses the power and movements of the wind. 

The use of this alternative energy is dependent on an area with a high flow of wind. However, it has proven to be dangerous to wildlife forms.

  • Solar Power

Solar power is mainly the first thought in everyone’s mind when they hear about alternative energy sources. 

Some would state it as the most used renewable or alternative power source of the 21st century. 

It absorbs the light from the sun and converts it to electrical power.


I understand the consistent confusion between alternative and renewable energy. 

The truth about both energies is that they possess some similarities, but they are two different terms that people use interchangeably.

However, I have highlighted and explained the differences and similarities between both alternative and renewable energies. 

In addition, I outlined some examples of alternative energy for better understanding.

cost of renewable energy vs nonrenewable energy

Previous Post

What is the cost of renewable energy vs nonrenewable energy?

Next Post

Is Renewable Energy Affordable?

Is Renewable Energy Affordable?