While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Alternative energy refers to non-mainstream (non-coal) sources of energy, while renewable energy refers to those alternative energies which are naturally replenished (wind, solar, rain, geothermal, tide, etc). While, at this point, all renewable energies are alternitive energies, not all alternitive energies are renewable. “Clean coal” for example is seen by many as an alternative energy, but it is not renewable.
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