In this article, the term fossil fuels includes coal, petroleum and natural gas. In 2007, the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) concluded that 86.4% of the primary energy consumption in the world can be sourced back to fossil fuels. Below you will find the most important fossil fuels pros and cons.
Advantages of Fossil Fuels
1. Well Developed
The technology we use to harness the energy in fossil fuels is well developed. The main reason for this is that fossil fuels have been used to power our world for many decades.
2. Cheap and Reliable
Fossil fuels are cheap and reliable sources of energy. They are excellent types of fuel to use for the energy base-load, as opposed to some of the more unreliable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels
1. Contribute to Global Warming
Fossil fuels are not green sources of energy. In fact, they contain high amounts of carbon and have been blamed for being the main contributor to global warming.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources. This means that there is a finite amount of fossil fuels available and the reserves are not replenished naturally. This is not entirely correct, as fossil fuels are products of millions of years of natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. The thing is, as opposed to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, it takes millions of years before the formation of fossil fuels takes place in any noteworthy quantities.
We are spending our fossil fuel reserves in a non-sustainable manner. Luckily, this forces us to think different when it comes to energy, which results in the growth of renewable and green sources of energy.
One of the major reasons why fossil fuels are as cheap is a history of government incentives. Coal, natural gas and petroleum received $4.22 billion most in direct subsidies – solar got $1.13 billion.
5. Accidents Happen
They are not nearly as serious as accidents related to nuclear power, but on the other hand, fossil fuels will never have the safety of solar and wind. The picture above is from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.