Fossil Fuels: Advantages and Disadvantages

Fossils fuels are the driving force of our technological progress. However, the depleting reservoirs of fossil fuels, as well as the disastrous effects of their over-consumption have forced the mankind to rethink about uses of fossil fuels as energy resources.
The discovery of fossils for energy purpose has turned the wheel of revolution in the history of mankind. Fossil fuels have the capacity to satisfy the energy demands of the entire world for several hundred years. They have provided a great impetus to the industrial revolution that took place in the twentieth century. The modern world greatly owes its technological and mechanical progress to fossil fuels. However, the irrational consumption of fossil fuels have led to several problems all over the world.

What are Fossil Fuels?

Fossil fuels are the remains of plants and animals from the prehistoric era, which have now reduced to mere hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons are in the form of solids or liquids. Fossil fuels have a very high combustion rate and they release tremendous amount of energy. Most of our fuel and energy demands are met by the fossil fuels. Interestingly, the world's demand for fossil fuels has doubled every 20 years, yet the reservoirs of fossil fuels are sufficient enough to meet this demand. However, excessive consumption of fossil fuels in the twentieth century, in the name of progress has led to the depletion of these reservoirs. Besides, fossil fuels have increased the level of environmental pollution so much, that it has now become a serious environmental concern. In this article, we have taken an overview of the various advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuels.


Fossil fuels have several advantages over other sources of energy. This is the main reason why they are still the major energy supplier of the world. The advantages of fossil fuels are as follows:
  • Fossil fuels have a very high calorific value. Thus, burning 1 gm of fossil fuel releases tremendous amount of energy. Thus, the energy produced by fossil fuels is greater than that produced by an equivalent amount of other energy resource.
  • The reservoirs of fossil fuels are pretty easy to locate with the help of advanced equipment and technology.
  • Coal is a fossil fuel that is found in abundance. It is used in most power plants because it reduces the production cost to a great extent.
  • Transportation of fossil fuels that are in liquid or gaseous forms is very easy. They are simply transported through pipes.
  • Construction of power plants that work on fossil fuels is also easy.
  • Petroleum is the most predominantly used form of fossil fuels for all types of vehicles.
  • Fossil fuels are easier to extract and process, hence are cheaper than the non-conventional forms of energy.


Although, fossil fuels were a preferred source of energy until recently, their over consumption and some undesirable properties have led to several issues of grave importance. The disadvantages of fossil fuels are as follows:
  • Although, oil, natural gas and coal are found in abundance in nature, the alarming rate at which they are being consumed has resulted in substantial depletion of their reservoirs. Besides, it is impossible to replenish the resources as it takes millions of years for the hydrocarbon chains to form from organic remains.
  • The hydrocarbons present in the fossil fuels, release greenhouse gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide etc., which are capable of damaging the ozone layer.
  • Besides, other harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide are responsible for acid rain, which has spelled disaster for the ecology.
  • Extraction of fossil fuels has endangered the environmental balance in some areas. Moreover, coal mining has jeopardized the lives of several mine workers.
  • The depletion of reservoirs has made the extraction of fossil fuels an expensive affair. This is likely to affect the fuel prices in near future.
  • Leakage of some fossil fuels, such as natural gas, crude oil can lead to severe hazards. Hence, transportation of these fuels is very risky.
  • Fossil fuels have contributed in more than one way for global warming, the issue that is being combated all over the world.
Though, fossil fuels have efficiently met our growing energy demands all these years, it's high time we start looking for alternative sources of energy. The rising fuel demands and the ever rising fuel prices have made the use of substitute energy forms inevitable.
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