Fossil energy is the energy that comes from the combustion of fossil fuels.
It is a source of non-renewable energy because it is not an inexhaustible energy source nor regenerates at the same rate at which it is consumed.
Fossil fuels are formed from organic substances that have accumulated in the ground. These substances can be the remains of plants, animals and other living things. Over the years, millions of years, they undergo certain physical and chemical transformations until they reach the point where they become components of which it is easy to convert them into energy: fossil energy.
Types of fossil energy
The different types of fossil energy are determined by the type of fossil fuel in question. We differentiate three major types of fossil energy:
Coal was the first major fossil fuel to be used in the industry, in particular. Coal was the fuel that allowed the industrial revolution.
Coal is formed by the decomposition of vegetable matter. The pressure and the temperature at which the organic particles in the underground layers undergo that they are transformed into coal.
Petroleum has an oily liquid texture. It is generated by the marine remains that are deposited in the bottom of the sea. Due to the pressure and temperatures to which they are subjected, over the years, they are transformed into petroleum.
Precisely because gasoline is a derivative of petroleum, cars and thermal engines in general are machines that use fossil energy for their operation.
Natural gas is composed of methane. This corresponds to the light fraction of hydrocarbons. It is extracted from the underground layers in the form of gas.
Why is the use of fossil energies so widespread?
Fossil fuels use a type of fuel that is limited. It is therefore a non renewable energy in medium-term (or long-term from a human point of view).
It is also a type of polluting energy, which generates gases that promote the greenhouse effect and damage the ozone layer.
So, why is the use of fossil energy so widespread?
The explanation dates back to the very beginning of the industrial revolution. At that time the main thing was to improve production and lower costs. The use of fossil fuels allowed both, the price of coal was not very high and allowed to build machines that improved production and saved costs in wages.
There were large quantities of coal, and at first it seemed inexhaustible. Little by little the number of machines using fossil fuels has been growing to the point that it is difficult to change the dynamics.
From the environmental point of view, at the time the first machines were developed, there was no ecological awareness now. Nor were the environmental problems the same, since no known gases were known to affect the ozone layer or the greenhouse effect.
Last review: April 3, 2017Back