Can We Renew Chemical Energy or Not?

While you cannot replace the same chemical energy you have used the vast amount of chemical energy puts it above finite resources such as fossil fuels. When it comes to chemical energy the question of renewable or non-renewable is not all important.

Chemical energy is the form of energy most often used but many don't realize that is the case. This is a chemical reaction that takes place when fossil fuels are burned, when gasoline is combusted or when natural gas is used.

Those are fundamental processes of chemical energy where the energy is released by burning. Batteries that power everything in our home from ceiling fans to cell phones use chemical energy.

Chemical compounds are collections of large numbers of atoms. The atoms are bound to each other and when those bonds are broken a chemical reaction is the result.

When a process is applies to break the bonds of atoms, new compounds are created in the process. Oxidation of the atoms occurs immediately as the bonds break.

Exothermic energy is the result of a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of heat. We use the heat energy produced to power various products and systems we use daily. When the exothermic energy is released the amount (size) of the chemical compound is reduced.


Nutrition is a form of chemical energy. When we eat it breaks down the molecules in the foot we consume and converts it into new molecules which release energy in the form of nutrition absorbs by our bodies.

When we burn coal or wood, we are creating chemical energy. This natural energy is all around us and there is no debate on whether chemical energy is renewable or non-renewable as it exists so widely in everything we use and is a part of so many daily things we do.

There is energy required to break the covalent bonds holding atoms together. This is referred to as endothermic energy. When the heat energy released is greater than the endothermic energy required to break the bonds of atoms, the result is exothermic.

In some processes the opposite occurs and the heat required to break the bonds of the chemical compound is greater than the heat resulting from the change.

Energy is the ability to do work according to the scientific definition. There are two basic categories of energy. Potential energy is stored energy while kinetic energy is created by motion. Chemical energy is potential energy that exists in food, fossil fuels, batteries, etc.


Potential energy is also found with gravitational energy, nuclear energy and electrical energy. All of these are stored in a substance or object and can be converted to kinetic energy when a process is applied. Radiant energy such as sunlight, radiowaves, motion and sound are forms of kinetic energy.

Energy can be converted from one form (stored) to another (kinetic) but it cannot be created or destroyed. Thus, chemical is not renewable but is non-renewable.

The potential for energy is present in many of the naturally occurring resources around us and that confuses the question. You cannot renew the chemical energy in one ear of corn, but you can grow more corn.

When it comes to fossil fuels the non-renewable factor is more clearly in evidence. You can find better and more efficient methods to release the chemical energy in coal, natural gas or oil but these are finite resources. Once the earth's store of fossil fuels has been consumed, those fuels will not be renewed.

Renewable Energy Sources

Geothermal energy, and energy created by sun and wind are free to use and freely occurring. They have low carbon emissions and thus as listed as environmentally responsible energy sources.

Such energy sources, with the exception of geothermal fields, occur almost everywhere in the world. There is no need to worry about the political climate in a far off country as the chemical energy of sun and wind are available in our own back yards.

Governments at state and national levels have recognized the value of harnessing alternative energy sources and thus provide help in the form of grants and tax incentives to encourage the development of alternative energy power plants and the equipment needed.

Building solar panels and wind turbines is often conducted in plants that are highly subsidized by government agencies to encourage use of environmentally friendly power sources.

On the other hand, these are expensive sources of energy. Solar power works great in some areas but not in areas where cloudy days are the norm. Even in the sunniest states, solar power is only produced during daytime hours and not at night or during a period of rainy weather.


Geothermal energy is renewable but its use is limited to areas where geothermal fields are fairly close to the surface of the earth and can be accessed with deep drilling.

Tapping into geothermal springs that are thousands of years old can release toxic chemicals to the earth's surface and could potential caused some changes in the environment.

Wind energy relies on the reliability and strength of wind which is not something we can control. There are also ongoing concerns about the effect on bird species in an area where wind farms are located.

Hydroelectric power plants are restricted to areas where the volume of water and the height of the body of water are critical. The safety of wildlife and fish is also a big concern when utilizing hydroelectric power.

The potential for chemical energy is all around us and, in fact, we turn that potential energy into kinetic energy without thinking about it as we live our daily lives. It is difficult to classify chemical energy as one form or another because it is so widely present in our environment.