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9.2. Natural resources and their types

Natural resources and their types

The development model of our society is based on the consumption of large amounts of energy. We need more and more energy to satisfy our needs, and this energy comes from the natural resources that our planet provides us.

Since the appearance of the human being, we have been needing more and more resources. Any electronic device, for example, is made up of many elements of different composition. The amount of waste we generate has also increased considerably .

natural resource is all the good that comes from nature and humans provides the raw materials and energy needed to meet their needs.

According to the regeneration capacity of a resource, natural resources are classified into:

  • Renewable resources. A resource is renewable if after being used it can be regenerated. They are not depleted with use, as they return to their original state or regenerate at a faster rate than it is consumed. Therefore, if used correctly, they can be inexhaustible. For example, hydraulic, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biomass, or hydrogen energy are renewable energies.


Wind turbines in the Sierra de San Just (Teruel).

  • Potentially renewable resourcesThey are those resources whose renewability depends on the use that humans make of them. For example, water or fishing. Fishing can be a renewable resource if it is not abused.
  • Non-renewable resources. A resource is non-renewable when when it is depleted or can be depleted. They cannot be regenerated at the same rate as they are consumed, without nature being able to produce them again in short geological periods. These resources are limited. For example, energy obtained from fossil fuels or nuclear energy. In other cases, such as minerals and rocks, although they are non-renewable resources, recycling can extend their useful life (copper, aluminum, iron, etc.).

Sometimes, it may be the case that a resource exists but cannot be used by humans. The part of the resources that can be used and whose extraction is economically profitable is called a reserve.

Natural resources, depending on whether or not they are useful for obtaining energy, are classified into:

  • Energy resources. They allow obtaining energy. For example, fossil fuels, hydropower, radioactive minerals, wind power, etc.
  • Non-energy resources. They are useful to humans but do not provide energy. For example, minerals, industrial rocks, water, soil, etc. These resources provide the food and tools necessary for life.

In Aragon, for example, water, wind and lignite, a type of coal, stand out as natural resources. A few years ago, mining was of great importance, especially in areas such as the Teruel mining basins. There are still thermal power plants in Teruel. Currently, renewable energies have gained interest, such as hydroelectric plants (Huesca and Zaragoza) and wind and solar parks (in the three provinces).

Antigua central térmica de Aliaga, actualmente abandonada

The old thermal power plant in Aliaga (Teruel) is currently abandoned.

Video: Inauguration of the Aliaga Thermal Power Plant (Teruel).

Some examples of natural resources are the following:

Non-renewable mineral resources

Ornamental and industrial rocks. They are used in construction, industry and other uses

Non-renewable energy resources

Fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) and radioactive minerals.

Renewable energy resources

Hydropower, wood, charcoal, wind power, solar power, etc.

Water resources

It is a renewable resource, but limited. It could be said that it is partially renewable if it is not consumed more than what is available. Mouth water for human consumption, for agriculture, livestock, industry, etc.


Renewable The soil is the support of the ecosystem of agricultural and livestock activities.

Forest resources

Renewable We can extract wood, fruits, etc. forest. It can be considered partially renewable, since if more wood is extracted than the ecosystem allows, the forest may end up disappearing.

Agricultural resources

Renewable Cultivation to obtain vegetables for food or other uses.

Livestock resources

Renewable Raising animals for food or other uses.

Fishing resources

Partially renewable. It is renewable as long as its exploitation is abused, since it may end up disappearing.

Answer in your notebook

9.1.- Explain the differences between renewable energy sources and non-renewable energy sources. Give two examples of each type.


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