It is no secret that climate change is a serious, catastrophic problem for the future of our planet. The last 200 years have seen an over-consumption of natural resources, leaving reserves depleted and harder to locate than ever before. These resources are known as fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels mainly refer to oil, natural gas and coal, which were formed millions of years ago when dead organisms were trapped and became buried underneath land. Over time the compression formed fossils, creating carbon-rich fuel sources. The push for new, cost-effective renewable energy sources has never been so important. Fossil fuels are by nature finite and won’t be around forever.
A key question is when will fossil fuels run out? The answer does vary for each type of fossil fuel. In this guide we will provide a comprehensive list of the fossil fuels and how long until they run out.
The amount of fossil fuels we consume is just not sustainable. Global population increases means the need for fossil fuels increases. The fact that the resources are limited is not the main problem. The downsides to extracting fossil fuels from the earth are:
Fossil fuel consumption is still increasing and new reserves are significantly smaller than past deposits. For example, oil reserves: 16 of the 20 largest oil fields in the world have reached peak level production – they’re simply too small to keep up with global demand.
Another big factor is that to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5°C, up to 80% of our fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. But unfortunately this has not led to a decrease in use. So how long will the main types of fossil fuels last?
It is estimated that discovered oil reserves will run out by 2052. As for unknown oil reserves, the Earth’s core is that deep that there will always be new wells to find. Although, drilling into the Earth’s core gets more expensive the deeper you go. It is more likely that cost of extraction will become too high and fortunately more renewable, cheaper sources will be employed.
The bad news is coal is still in demand and this means it will still be produced. But unless knew deposits are found coal will be no more by 2168. The good news is that in 2017, the UK spent three days without coal power – the first time the UK has gone without coal since the 19th century!
Proven world gross reserves of natural sat at over 7 trillion cubic feet in 2018. Many estimates corroborate that the amount of natural gas we have left will last us anywhere from 40 to 52 years. Factors such as new reserves being discovered could change this though. Transporting natural gas is highly dangerous due to its explosive nature; therefore it is often used locally to its source. Russia is frequently involved in gas disputes from the monopoly it holds on the resource.
The inevitable depletion of fossil fuels is unlikely to happen during our lifetimes, but the need for renewable energy sources is not any less urgent. Green energy made from wind and solar power is sustainable, because it is generated by resources that won’t run out. It can also help to negate the effects of climate change.
The energy payback for solar power technology is only two years. That means it only takes two years for a solar park to make the same amount of energy used in its manufacture and installation. And after that, decades of cheap energy that is good for the planet will be provided. Fighting the effects of climate change starts at home and everyone can make a difference.