Fossil Fuels Pros and Cons – AEN News

Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuels

Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuels.

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are used today as the main source of energy on the planet because they are cheap even if we are aware of the fact that they are polluting the environment.

In the developing countries coal is considered the best fuel for electricity and heat production and is used on a mass scale because is an affordable source of power that can help their economies to reach the level of the developed countries.

What are Fossil Fuels – Definition

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas have been formed in the Earth’s crust during a very long period of time (millions of years) due to natural processes like anaerobic decomposition of buried organisms (dead plants and animals), which have contained energy produced by the photosynthesis process that took place in very ancient times.

Fossil fuels represented the main energy source of the industrial revolution that turned the human society from a society producing handmade products into the modern society that produces products on a mass scale using machines and assembly lines.

All fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, which means that they contain high levels of carbon in their composition.

Burning them to generate electricity and heat will release impressive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (carbon dioxide and other harmful gases), and because the natural processes on the planet can only absorb about half of the quantity of CO2 released this way, we are facing a yearly accumulation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which leads to global warming and climate change.

Pros of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels have many advantages over the renewable energy sources mostly due to the fact that they are cheap and they represent reliable sources of power.

1. A Cheap and Widely Available Source of Energy

Fossil fuels are still used today on a mass scale for electricity and heat generation mostly because they represent cheap sources of power (compared to renewable energy) and because they are can be found almost everywhere around the world.

Every country on the planet has one or more energy sources available, which can be used to meet at least a part of their energy demand.

Some countries have great resources of coal, other countries may have great resources of oil and natural gas, while other countries might have great resources of renewable energy.

As a general rule, fossil fuels are still considered today the main energy source on the planet because they are affordable and widely available.

2. A Very Efficient Source of Power

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are very efficient sources of power compared to other source of energy known today (excepting nuclear power).

The average efficiency of a coal power station today is around 31%, while a modern coal fired power plant could have an efficiency around 40%.

Oil is considered the most efficient fossil fuel (more efficient than coal and natural gas).

An oil-fired power station has an efficiency around 45%, which means that is more practical and more efficient than coal.

A gas-fired power station is even more efficient than coal and oil reaching an efficiency around 52%.

3. A Fossil Fuel Power Plant is Easy to Set Up

Fossil fuels are still widely available on the planet today, which means that a power station burning fossil fuels can be easily installed as long as the supply of fossil fuels is ensured.

Being easy to transport, fossil fuels can be sent on long distances to ensure a continuous supply of fuel for power stations that are producing electricity and heat for the population.

4. A Fossil Fuel Power Station Occupies A Small Area to Produce Huge Amounts of Energy

Unlike the renewable energy sources, a power station burning fossil fuels to generate power will occupy a much smaller surface of land than a solar park or a wind farm.

Futtsu Power Station in Japan runs on natural gas and has an energy output of 5,044 MW.

This power station occupies an area of only 1 square kilometer, but generates 5 GW of energy.

Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in India occupies an area of 24 square kilometers and generates about 1,000 MW of energy (1 GW).

Gansu in China is the largest onshore wind farm in the world occupying an area of about 50 square kilometers to generate 7,965 MW (7.9 GW).

5. Fossil Fuels Generate Thousands of Jobs Worldwide

The world cannot switch to renewable energy sources right away.

We are still bound today to use fossil fuels on a mass scale to cover our increasing energy needs, and to clean the environment, we are slowly replacing the most polluting fossil fuels (coal) with less polluting energy sources such as natural gas and renewable energy.

Fossil fuels like oil and natural gas will remain the main sources of power on the planet for many years ahead, which means that along with the renewable energy sector, the fossil fuel sector will still create thousands of jobs.

Cons of Fossil Fuels

The list of disadvantages related to fossil fuels is much longer than the list of benefits, which means that we need to replace these dirty energy sources as quickly as possible to reduce the number of victims (people, birds and animals) affected by pollution and to heal the environment.

1. Fossil Fuels Represent Finite Sources of Power

All fossil fuels on the planet are finite resources, which means that they will be depleted in the next couple of decades, or even quicker if the consumption of fossil fuels for energy production will grow above the current level.

Being finite resources of energy it means that fossil fuel are not renewable sources of power, such as solar, wind, water, tides, geothermal, biomass, etc.

This is another reason why we need to work hard to find alternatives to fossil fuels because we don’t want to stay without energy and go back to candles when these dirty and finite power sources will be depleted.

2. Fossil Fuels are Polluting the Environment

It is more than obvious that all the pollution that affects the environment today (air, soil and water pollution) was created due to the fact that we are burning fossil fuels on a mass scale to produce electricity and heat and to run our cars.

Switching from fossil fuels such as coal and oil to low-carbon energy sources (natural gas) and renewable energy sources will reduce the level of pollution and will help the environment to heal itself.

3. Public Health is Affected by the Pollution Produced by Fossil Fuels

Using fossil fuels to generate energy affects the environment and also the health of the people.

Air pollution produced by vehicles in cities affects the population by creating several types of allergies and diseases which in some cases can lead to death.

Smog created by a very large number of vehicles on the streets or by coal power stations used to generate electricity and heat during the winter can cover an entire city, and can affect the health of a very large number of people.

4. Affecting the Health of the Workers in the Coal Sector

Workers in the coal sector (mining) can be heavily affected by the dangers of their activity and by the coal dust ingested or inhaled in the process.

Mining for coal and drilling after oil and shale gas can be very dangerous for the workers involved in the process.

Every year, many workers lose their life due to their work in coal mines while other workers in the extraction sector suffer different accidents (some fatal).

5. Government Incentives

I mentioned before that fossil fuels represent cheap sources of power on the planet (cheaper than renewable energy), but I forgot to mention that their affordable price is mostly created by the incentives provided by the world governments.

Coal, oil and natural gas are all heavily subsidized energy sources, and they receive four times more money than renewable energy.

6. Fossil Fuels Are Unsustainable

The current level of fossil fuel consumption on the planet is set to rise in the future because the number of people on the planet increases every year, and there are still many countries that are trying to bring their economies up to the level of the developed countries (China, India, etc.), which means a huge consumption of energy and resources.

Consuming fossil fuels with such a pace is unsustainable, and will deplete all the fossil fuel resources available on the planet in a much shorter time than previously estimated.

7. Fossil Fuels Produce Dangerous Environmental Accidents

The large oil tankers used to carry the fuel on very long distances across the sea have already suffered several accidents in the past that have led to major environmental disasters.

Animals and birds have been heavily affected by oil spills, marine life and entire ecosystems have been destroyed or heavily affected during such environmental accidents.

Renewable energy is not producing such horrible accidents, maybe the wind turbines are killing some birds and bats that get close to the rotating blades, and the same can do the rotating turbines of a hydroelectric power plant, but will never destroy birds, animals and entire ecosystems at such a level as fossil fuels do.


Fossil fuels have helped mankind to evolve from handmade products to the actual level of industrial, social and economic level of development, but at the same time they have heavily polluted the environment.

For the future, we need to replace these old and dirty sources of energy with new, renewable and cleaner sources of power, which will help us to move to the next level of development for mankind.

Magda Savin
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Magda Savin

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues.
I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people.
Magda Savin
Magda Savin
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