A very big question. All energy we use on the planet originates from the sun, as does all matter. Stars, like our sun, don’t last forever but, for all intents and purposes, the sun’s energy isn’t finite.
Fossil fuels are a result of this process of energy from the sun becoming matter, which takes millions of years. These fuels are finite because we are using them much faster than they are created.
Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are so attractive because they aren’t finite. However, to capture this energy requires us to build technologies which do use finite resources themselves. Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London told us that: “Many forms of renewable energy such as solar, wind and the batteries for hybrid cars etc. all use rare earth minerals. 80% of the World’s supply comes from northern Mongolia from two huge opencast mines that can be seen from space.1 The minerals are mined, refined and shipped all around the world. This is not very ‘green’. Some of the elements used in renewables, such as cadmium, are so toxic that when no longer used, have to be disposed of in a manner akin to nuclear waste disposal.”
So, at the moment, our way of life is not possible without the use of some finite resources. We can mitigate this problem by being more efficient in our energy use.