Why Fossil Fuels Are Still Important (& What We Use Them For)

There may be significant attention drawn to the potential negative side and drawbacks to fossil fuels

However, what might not be emphasised as strongly is just how much we still rely on fossil fuels across society, and the potential benefits they might provide

Below, we list some of the main reasons fossil fuels are still important across society, and what some of the main uses for them might be

 

Summary – Why Fossil Fuels Are Still Important, & What We Use Them For

Why Fossil Fuels Are Still Important

Fossil fuels might be important for:

– The number of uses they have across society

Not only are fossil fuels used across essentially every industry and sector, but they are also used in the production of thousands of everyday products and items we use

An interesting stat from iagc.org about the prevalence of fossil fuels in the use on a daily basis is: ‘Fossil fuels are found in 96% of the items we use each day’

 

– The types of uses they have across society

i.e. these types of uses are critical to our economies and the functioning of society

There’s also economic and social benefits that flow on from this, such as employment, income, quality of life, and so on

 

What We Use Fossil Fuels For

Different fossil fuels have different uses

A few of the key shared uses of the different fossil fuels are for energy in the form of electricity generation, and also as a vehicle fuel

But, these are not the only uses

We list the different uses for each of the main fossil fuels below

 

Importance Of Fossil Fuels, & Uses For Fossil Fuels

Above, we identified that the importance of fossil fuels relates to the number of things that fossil fuels are used for across society, and also how critical those things are to the functioning of society (and the benefits those things provide us with).

Some of the general uses for fossil fuels across society are:

– For electricity generation

Many key countries in the world still use fossil fuels heavily in their electricity mix.

Even cities that have renewable energy as a part of their power grid might have fossil fuels as a backup or complementary energy source in their electricity mix.

 

– In industry 

Coking coal is used for steel production, and steel obviously has many key uses across society

worldcoal.org mentions that ‘Over 71% of the steel produced today uses coal … in the steel making process’

Coal is also used in cement manufacturing.

Thousands of materials and products are also derived from fossil fuels, where it can be used as a feedstock

As one example, petroleum and natural gas have an important role as a feedstock for plastic 

In the US specifically, plastic uses natural gas as a feedstock in production.

Plastic is used for many key uses across society, to the point we may not be able to live without it in the short to medium term

As plastic production grows in the future, fossil fuels may only become more important as a feedstock for this increased production

 

wwf.org.au mentions this about petroleum use in plastic:

Currently, 4% of the world’s annual petroleum production is diverted to making plastic, and another 4% gets burned in the refining process 

 

thegef.org also outlines the importance of natural gas and oil in producing plastic:

Conventional plastic production is highly dependent on virgin fossil feedstocks (mainly natural gas and oil) … [to the point that …] Plastics production [currently] consumes up to 6% of global oil production …

 

thegef.org mentions this about the projected future of plastic production:

Plastics production … is projected to [consume up to 20% of global oil production] by 2050 if current consumption patterns persist

 

weforum.org makes similar comments about how oil could play in the future of plastic production:

[Plastic production] is expected to triple by 2050, when it would account for 20% of global annual oil consumption 

 

– For heating

Fossil fuels are used for heating (such as space heating, water heating, and so on) across the industrial, commercial and residential sectors

As one example, we might still primarily use oil and natural gas boilers in buildings for heating (and even electric heating might primarily use a fossil fuel source).

 

– As a fuel for transport

Petroleum based fuels are still the predominant fuel sources in the transport sector (with gasoline being the major one)

 

– For refrigeration and cooling

 

– For 1000’s of different products

A partial list of 6000 items that use petroleum can be found at whgbetc.com

 

iagc.org also lists items that use fossil fuels across cosmetics and personal care, the automotive industry, and home

 

What We Use Coal For

One of the primary uses for coal is for electricity generation

We outline the range of other uses for coal in this guide

 

What We Use Oil For

One of the primary uses for oil is for petroleum based fuels for transport and the propulsion of vehicles (like cars, trucks, planes, ships, and so on)

We outline the range of other uses for oil in this guide

 

What We Use Natural Gas For

Two of the primary uses for natural gas are electricity generation, and also for industrial use

We outline the range of other uses for natural gas in this guide

 

Potential Benefits & Drawbacks Of Fossil Fuels

We’ve put together separate guides outlining the potential pros and cons of fossil fuels in general, and also the individual fossil fuels:

Fossil Fuels (In General)

Pros & Cons Of Fossil Fuels

 

Coal

Pros and Cons Of Coal Energy

Pros and Cons Of Clean Coal Technology

 

Oil

Pros and Cons Of Oil Energy

 

Natural Gas

Pros and Cons Of Natural Gas Energy

 

 

 

Sources

1. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-cons-of-fossil-fuel-energy-now-into-the-future/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/energy-sources-energy-mix-by-country-where-major-countries-in-the-world-get-their-energy-from/

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/can-renewable-energy-replace-fossil-fuels-meet-demand-power-the-world-moving-towards-100-renewable-energy/

4. https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/plastic-waste-and-climate-change-whats-the-connection#gs.3b2972

5. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf

6. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/potentially-harmful-effects-of-plastic-on-the-environment-wildlife-humans-health-the-economy/

7. https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal/how-steel-produced

8. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/the-pros-cons-of-plastic/

9. https://whgbetc.com/petro-products.pdf

10. https://www.iagc.org/importance-of-fossil-fuels.html

11. https://www.thegef.org/sites/default/files/council-meeting-documents/EN_GEF.STAP_.C.54.Inf_.05_Plastics.pdf

12. https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-coal

Leave a Comment