Conventional Sources of Energy Vs Non Conventional Energy Sources

Energy is the primary force to carry out a particular task. According to science, it has a quantitative value of transmission from one state to another. The laws of physics state that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. However, it has the ability to get converted from one form to another.

In other words, energy is essential in regulating our day to day lives.

This article builds its argument from a geographical point of view. It discusses the different sources of energy from which India draws power to carry out work. This work is primarily related to electricity generation in homes, agricultural, industrial, communication, and transport sectors.

Conventional Sources of Energy and Non-conventional Sources of Energy

Sources of energy can be classified into two types:

  1. Conventional sources of Energy
  2. Non-conventional sources of Energy

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Conventional Sources of Energy

  • These are natural sources of energy available for a limited time period
  • Non-renewable in nature, these sources shall get depleted with the passage of time
  • Usually obtained from decaying matter which was formed over millions of years ago
  • Continual exploitation of these resources have deteriorated them to a great extent
  • For example, coal is a conventional source of energy, overused and exhausted
  • According to researchers, coal may not last for more than 100 years if used judiciously
  • Other than coal, biomass natural gas and petroleum are some conventional sources of energy
  • These sources cause environmental damage and contribute to global warming
  • Commonly used for commercial and industrial purposes
  • Involve heavy expenditure in their production and maintenance
  • Used extensively as compared to non-conventional energy sources

Different types of Conventional Sources of Energy

Conventional sources of energy are of following types:


  • A renewable source of energy
  • Plant and animal waste are their primary sources
  • Energy from this source is obtained from the breaking of organic molecules during the process of photosynthesis
  • It can either be used directly or converted into other forms for its convenient extraction
  • Agricultural crops, forest raw materials, household waste, charcoal, agricultural waste, plant waste, and urban waste are some of its major by-products
  • Biomass is used in power generation for domestic heating
  • It is a clean fuel with community heating applications
  • Burning of biomass releases bio-energy which finds key usage in sustainable development


  • There are around 148790 million tonnes of coal deposits in India.
  • India is the fourth-largest coal-producing industry in the world.
  • Coal deposits are mainly in the states of Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • It features as an employment hub of 7 lakh workers.

Oil and Natural Gas

  • An important source of energy in India.
  • Used in automobiles, trains, aircraft, and ships.
  • Mumbai, Assam, and Gujarat are the key oil-producing states in India.
  • In the 1950s, India produced around 3 million tons of oil every year.
  • Today, India comprises 13 oil refineries and 604 lakh tonnes of oil each year.
  • Oil reserves in India may last for 20-25 years if used and exploited at the current rate.


It is a common source of energy for commercial and domestic purposes. Today, electricity is generated from various sources. Some of the popular electricity sources are:

Tidal Energy

  • It harnesses the energy from the upward and downward moving tidal waves.
  • To generate energy from tides, the tidal range must be above 5 m.
  • To extract energy from this source, a dam is built across the shore of the tides.
  • This dam is usually constructed around a bay or an estuary in order to form a reservoir for energy collection.
  • With the rise of tides, the dam opens its gates to allow the seawater to enter.
  • This further turns the blades of the installed turbines and eventually results in the generation of electricity.
  • As soon as the tide falls, the gates of the dam are shut to the falling water while keeping the flowed-in water still intact.
  • In this way, energy is harnessed from the rising and falling tides.
  • This building of dams across the tidal power venues adversely impacts the vegetation and wildlife of that area.

Wind Energy

  • It is produced by harnessing wind power.
  • Mainly advantageous for the purpose of irrigation.
  • A set of 2575 wind pumps is required for its extraction.
  • A total of 1000 MW wind energy setups are installed in India.
  • India is the second-largest producer of wind energy in the world.
  • It is a free and clean source of energy.
  • These may be hazardous for birds and flying planes.
  • It may not be available everywhere.

Hydel Energy

  • It utilizes the kinetic energy of mobile water to generate power.
  • It is a cheaper source of energy as compared to geothermal and nuclear energy.
  • To harness hydel energy, highly elevated dams are built across the rivers and the water falling on the dams generates hydropower.
  • It is an inexpensive and clean source of energy.
  • However, the building of dams drastically impacts the natural habitat of that region and also leads to the forced migration of the local population.
  • In short, it impacts the entire ecosystem of the location where hydel projects are undertaken.

Solar Energy

  • The heat of the sun is harnessed to produce energy
  • Solar energy can be useful for heating and lighting purposes at home
  • It also has indirect sources of use such as solar and photovoltaic cells
  • For solar heating, solar panels are installed on the roof-tops of houses, offices, and industries
  • Solar energy can be converted into electrical energy via photovoltaic cells.
  • Today, this conversion of energy helps in the manufacturing of various devices and electronics such as solar water heaters, solar cookers, solar cells, etc.
  • However, this energy has a limited storage capacity as sunlight is available only during the day.
  • It is also expensive with a high installation cost.

Geothermal Energy

  • Natural heat from the Earth’s interiors can also be useful to generate electricity.
  • The hot energy captured inside and sustained within the Earth helps in the harnessing of geothermal energy.
  • It can be extracted from areas prone to volcanoes, or areas located deep within the oceanic surface, hot springs and geysers.
  • In India, the Himalayan belt and the western coast are important geothermal energy generation regions.
  • Puga Valley in Ladakh is an essential source of geothermal energy.
  • At times, this source of energy can engender environmental problems such as emission of harmful gases like hydrogen sulphide and noise pollution at the geothermal site.

Nuclear Energy

  • The primary fuel for nuclear power plants is uranium.
  • India has three main nuclear power plants: at Jota (Rajasthan), Kalpakkam (Chennai), and Naroura (Uttar Pradesh).
  • Nuclear energy is generated through the electrochemical processes of fission and fusion.
  • It contributes around 3% of the total energy generation in India.
  • It is an eco-friendly and fuel-efficient source of energy.
  • However, it may be hazardous as nuclear accidents cause wide-ranging damage and loss.
  • There also exists a problem with the safe disposal of nuclear wastes.

Non-conventional Sources of Energy

  • These energy sources are eligible for continuous replenishment via natural processes
  • Inexhaustible in nature, these sources can be iteratively generated and long-lasting
  • These sources are renewable as the energy generated from them can be substituted with natural processed
  • Energy obtained from these resources is referred to as non-conventional energy.
  • They do not cause environmental pollution and are, therefore, environmental-friendly sources of energy.
  • These sources do not incur heavy expenditure.
  • Famous examples of these sources of energy are tidal energy, wind energy, hydel energy, solar energy, and geothermal energy (Exaplained above)
  • Commonly used for household purposes.

Difference Between Conventional and Non-conventional Sources of Energy

Conventional Sources of Energy Non Conventional Sources of Energy 
These sources of energy are not abundant, present in limited quantity, e.g. coal, petroleum, natural gas.These sources of energy are abundant in nature, e.g. solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, biogas from biomass, etc.
They have been in use for a long time.They are yet in the development phase over the past few years.
These are not replenished continuously. They are formed over a million years.These are replenished continuously by natural processes.
They are non-renewable sources of energy.These are renewable sources of energy.
They can be exhausted completely due to over-consumption except for hydel power.These cannot be exhausted completely.
They pollute the environment by emitting harmful gases and also contribute to global warming.These are environment-friendly, do not pollute the environment.
They are commonly useful for industrial and commercial purposes.These are commonly useful for household purposes.
Heavy expenditure is there in using and maintaining these sources of energy.Using these sources is less expensive.
They are used extensively, at a higher rate than the non-conventional sources.They are not used as extensively as conventional sources.

Differences Between Commercial and Non commercial Sources of Energy

S.N.Commercial EnergyNon-Commercial Energy
(i)        The sources of energy that are available to the; Liners at some price are referred to as commercial energy.   Examples of air: coal, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity.The sources of Energy that are usually available free of cost to the users are referred to as non-commercial energy. Examples are Firewood, agricultural waste, dried dung.
(ii)  This form of energy is useful for commercial purposes and domestic consumption mainly in urban areasThis form of energy is useful for domestic consumption mainly in rural areas.
(iii)There are generally exhaustibleThese are generally renewable.


Altogether, the different sources of energy production and generation in India feature as a decisive factor in the country’s growth and development. It also advances the country to feed millions of people residing within its territory.

The conventional Sources of Energy and non conventional sources of energy, as described above, also influence the patterns of domestic production and employment opportunities for people. In other words, both energy production and consumption are the backbones of a developing nation such as ours.

As citizens of the country, we should make every possible effort to sustain our energy resources and use them wisely and judiciously. Wastage of energy should be prohibited and the government’s measures to foster energy conservation must be strictly followed and respected.

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