What is a fossil fuel

Fossil fuels

Coal, crude oil and natural gas are fossil fuels that were created through degradation processes over millions of years. Due to the climate-damaging emissions that arise during the conversion of energy into electricity, they should be replaced by renewable energy sources such as sun, wind and water power.

Fossil fuels are fuels that have evolved over millions of years from the decomposition products of dead plants and animals. The energy obtained from fossil energy sources is called fossil energy. The class of fossil fuels includes lignite and hard coal, peat, natural gas and crude oil. They all store chemical energy. Biodiesel and biogas, on the other hand, are produced from wood and other modern organic waste (biomass) and therefore do not count as fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are constantly forming anew in different parts of the world, but these development processes are extremely slow in relation to the rate of degradation. For this reason, fossil energies are not counted among the renewable or regenerative energies. As a counter-term to fossil energy, renewable energy includes any energy that is taken from energetic processes that are continuously renewed.

Use of fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are complex mixtures of substances, i. H. to compounds based on carbon. They are all flammable, so when oxygen is supplied they give off heat that has been stored in the compounds as chemical energy over long periods of time.

For humans, this energy can be released and used in a relatively simple, technical way. Today fossil fuels are converted into electrical energy through combustion in coal, oil, gas and nuclear power plants.

Importance of fossil fuels

Fossil energies clearly make up the majority of the energy used worldwide today. Their development has contributed significantly to the prosperity of a large part of the world's population. However, the use of fossil fuels also has a significantly higher environmental impact than the use of renewable energies. And: while the demand for fossil energy is still increasing, the resources of fossil energy carriers are gradually being depleted. This applies above all to the most well-known energy source, the versatile petroleum.

Fossil energies, like renewable energies, are subsidized in the Federal Republic of Germany.