Advantages and Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels

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Advantages of Fossil Fuels

  • major advantage of fossil fuels is their capacity to generate huge amounts of electricity in just a single location.
  • Fossil fuels are very easy to find.
  • When coal is used in power plants, they are very cost effective. Coal is also in abundant supply.
  • Transporting oil and gas to the power stations can be made through the use of pipes making it an easy task.
  • Power plants that utilize gas are very efficient.
  • Power stations that make use of fossil fuel can be constructed in almost any location. This is possible as long as large quantities of fuel can be easily brought to the power plants.

Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels

  • Pollution is a major disadvantage of fossil fuels. This is because they give off carbon dioxide when burned thereby causing a greenhouse effect. This is also the main contributory factor to the global warming experienced by the earth today.
  • Coal also produces carbon dioxide when burned compared to burning oil or gas. Additionally, it gives off sulphur dioxide, a kind of gas that creates acid rain.
  • Environmentally, the mining of coal results in the destruction of wide areas of land. Mining this fossil fuel is also difficult and may endanger the lives of miners. Coal mining is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
  • Power stations that utilize coal need large amounts of fuel.

In other words, they not only need truckloads but trainloads of coal on a regular basis to continue operating and generating electricity. This only means that coal-fired power plants should have reserves of coal in a large area near the plant’s location.

  • Use of natural gas can cause unpleasant odors and some problems especially with transportation. Use of crude oil causes pollution and poses environmental hazards such as oil spills when oil tankers, for instance, experience leaks or drown deep under the sea. Crude oil contains toxic chemicals which cause air pollutants when combusted.
  • Very large amounts of electricity can be generated in one place using coal, fairly cheaply.
  • Transporting oil and gas to the power stations is easy.
  • Gas-fired power stations are very efficient.
  • A fossil-fuelled power station can be built almost anywhere, so long as you can get large quantities of fuel to it. Didcot power station, in Oxfordshire, has a dedicated rail link to supply the coal.


  • Basically, the main drawback of fossil fuels is pollution. Burning any fossil fuel produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to the "greenhouse effect", warming the Earth.
  • Burning coal produces more carbon dioxide than burning oil or gas. It also produces sulphur dioxide, a gas that contributes to acid rain. We can reduce this before releasing the waste gases into the atmosphere. More details on 'clean coal technology' from BBC News web site... Mining coal can be difficult and dangerous. Strip mining destroys large areas of the landscape.
  • Coal-fired power stations need huge amounts of fuel, which means train-loads of coal almost constantly. In order to cope with changing demands for power, the station needs reserves. This means covering a large area of countryside next to the power station with piles of coal.

Some advantages to using fossil fuels are:

  1. They have incredible energy density. For their weight, they contain a lot of energy which enables us build machines for transportation (like cars, trains, and planes). Without this energy density we couldn't fly airplanes, even coal is too heavy to fly an airplane, so we need oil for that. The only fuels that I'm aware of that have higher energy densities than oil are rocket fuels that are derived from fossil fuels, and nuclear fuel like Uranium.
  2. They are easy and cheap to get. Oil, natural gas, and coal are relatively abundant and found in many parts of the world.
  3. Alot of existing infrastructure is already geared towards the use of fossil fuels. We use fossil fuels not only to power our cars, but to produce electricity, produce many important chemicals, and produce fertilizer. 

Some of the disadvantages:

  1. Fossil fuels put out CO2 (a known greenhouse gas), they also often have nasty chemicals like lead and sulfur that get put in the air when we burn them.
  2. There is a lot of political instability in the world due to where some fossil fuels are found. Primarily these locations are in the Middle East and it helps to fuel a lot of violence around the world. Some of the advantages of fossil fuels are -
  • ALL fossil fuels originally derive their energy from the sun; thus all fossil fuels are essentially solar power. Easily combustible, and produces high energy upon combustion helping in locomotion and in the generation of electricity and various other forms of energy;
  • Coal burning alone accounts for more than 50% of the electricity in the USA electric grid
  • Widely and easily distributed all over the world;
  • Comparatively inexpensive due to large reserves and easy accessibility
  • Good availability
  • Inexpensive
  • Very large amounts of electricity can be generated in one place using coal, fairly cheaply.
  • Gas-fired power stations are very efficient.

A fossil-fueled power station can be built almost anywhere, so long as you can get large quantities of fuel to it. Didcot power station, in Oxfordshire, UK, has a dedicated rail link to supply the coal. However, the important issue as of now is whether there are more advantages than disadvantages of fossil fuels! Some people baselessly believe that carbon dioxide is responsible for allegedly increasing temperatures ignoring the long held, widely tested theory of ice age cycles and solar energy output cycles. Ironically all those people like all other mamals exhale carbon dioxide. Some disadvantages of fossil fuel are that - they are Nonrenewable (in the sense that once used it is no longer available as the current use of that word violates laws of thermodynamics)

  • burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide: the very same gas you exhale
  • mining of such fuels leads to irreversible damage to the adjoining environment; (narrow shafts for oil, caverns for coal, as opposed to displacing 90% of the population to grow enough corn)
  • Some speculate without evidence that it might run out this century
  • Prices for fossil fuels are rising, because certain lobbying factions do not want the USA to harvest its own vast oil-, coal-, and natural gas stores.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Fossil Fuels. (2017, Sep 22). Retrieved July 19, 2024 , from

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