Fossil fuel

Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries
A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK
An oil well in the Gulf of Mexico
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observational data is in red, with all data showing a 5 year moving average.
In 2020, renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity for the first time.

Hydrocarbon-containing material formed naturally in the earth's crust from the remains of dead plants and animals that is extracted and burned as a fuel.

- Fossil fuel
Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries

40 related topics

Alpha

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

Energy transition

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
An example of a long-term historic energy transition: share of primary energy by source in Portugal
Wind Turbine Total Costs
A booth for the Citizens' Climate Lobby, at a rally for science in Minnesota, 2018.
Global energy consumption by source.
Global energy consumption by source (in %).
Austria electricity supply by source
Denmark electricity generation by source
Electricity production in France.
Market share of Germany's power generation 2014
Primary energy mix in the United Kingdom over time, differentiated by energy source (in % of the total energy consumption)
U.S. energy consumption by source.
Timeline of commissioned and decommissioned nuclear capacity since the 1950s. Positive numbers show the commissioned capacity for each year; negative numbers show the decommissioned capacity for each year.
6 advantages of an energy transition (for example in Europe) - Energy Atlas 2018

Since fossil fuels are the largest single source of carbon emissions, the quantity that can be produced is limited by the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep global warming below 1.5 °C.

Fast carbon cycle showing the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons (gigatons) per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white are stored carbon. The effects of the slow carbon cycle, such as volcanic and tectonic activity are not included.

Carbon cycle

Biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

Biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

Fast carbon cycle showing the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons (gigatons) per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white are stored carbon. The effects of the slow carbon cycle, such as volcanic and tectonic activity are not included.
Detail of anthropogenic carbon flows, showing cumulative mass in gigatons during years 1850-2018 (left) and the annual mass average during 2009-2018 (right).
CO2 concentrations over the last 800,000 years as measured from ice cores (blue/green) and directly (black)
Amount of carbon stored in Earth's various terrestrial ecosystems, in gigatonnes.
A portable soil respiration system measuring soil CO2 flux.
Diagram showing relative sizes (in gigatonnes) of the main storage pools of carbon on Earth. Cumulative changes (thru year 2014) from land use and emissions of fossil carbon are included for comparison.
Carbon is tetrahedrally bonded to oxygen
Knowledge about carbon in the core can be gained by analysing shear wave velocities
Schematic representation of the overall perturbation of the global carbon cycle caused by anthropogenic activities, averaged from 2010 to 2019.
The pathway by which plastics enter the world's oceans.
Carbon stored on land in vegetation and soils is aggregated into a single stock ct. Ocean mixed layer carbon, cm, is the only explicitly modelled ocean stock of carbon; though to estimate carbon cycle feedbacks the total ocean carbon is also calculated.
Epiphytes on electric wires. This kind of plant takes both CO{{sub|2}} and water from the atmosphere for living and growing.
CO{{sub|2}} in Earth's atmosphere if half of global-warming emissions are not absorbed.<ref name="NASA-20151112-ab" /><ref name="NASA-20151112b" /><ref name="NYT-20151110" /><ref name="AP-20151109" /> (NASA computer simulation).

The sediments, including fossil fuels, freshwater systems, and non-living organic material.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas

Ocean acidification

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas
Here is a detailed image of the full carbon cycle
NOAA provides evidence for the upwelling of "acidified" water onto the Continental Shelf. In the figure above, note the vertical sections of (A) temperature, (B) aragonite saturation, (C) pH, (D) DIC, and (E) p on transect line 5 off Pt. St. George, California. The potential density surfaces are superimposed on the temperature section. The 26.2 potential density surface delineates the location of the first instance in which the undersaturated water is upwelled from depths of 150 to 200 m onto the shelf and outcropping at the surface near the coast. The red dots represent sample locations.
Ocean Acidification Infographic
The cycle between the atmosphere and the ocean
Distribution of (A) aragonite and (B) calcite saturation depth in the global oceans
This map shows changes in the aragonite saturation level of ocean surface waters between the 1880s and the most recent decade (2006–2015). Aragonite is a form of calcium carbonate that many marine animals use to build their skeletons and shells. The lower the saturation level, the more difficult it is for organisms to build and maintain their skeletons and shells. A negative change represents a decrease in saturation.
Here is detailed diagram of the carbon cycle within the ocean
Bjerrum plot: Change in carbonate system of seawater from ocean acidification.
Shells of pteropods dissolve in increasingly acidic conditions caused by increased amounts of atmospheric
A normally-protective shell made thin, fragile and transparent by acidification
Drivers of hypoxia and ocean acidification intensification in upwelling shelf systems. Equatorward winds drive the upwelling of low dissolved oxygen (DO), high nutrient, and high dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) water from above the oxygen minimum zone. Cross-shelf gradients in productivity and bottom water residence times drive the strength of DO (DIC) decrease (increase) as water transits across a productive continental shelf.
Demonstrator calling for action against ocean acidification at the People's Climate March (2017).
Ocean acidification: mean seawater pH. Mean seawater pH is shown based on in-situ measurements of pH from the Aloha station.
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface pH
Present day alkalinity
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Vertical inventory of "present day" (1990s) anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Change in surface {{chem|CO|3|2-}} ion from the 1700s to the 1990s
Present day DIC
Pre-Industrial DIC
A NOAA (AOML) in situ {{chem|CO|2}} concentration sensor (SAMI-CO2), attached to a Coral Reef Early Warning System station, utilized in conducting ocean acidification studies near coral reef areas
A NOAA (PMEL) moored autonomous {{chem|CO|2}} buoy used for measuring {{chem|CO|2}} concentration and ocean acidification studies

The main cause of ocean acidification is human burning of fossil fuels.

The greenhouse effect of solar radiation on the Earth's surface caused by emission of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gas

Gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.

Gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect of solar radiation on the Earth's surface caused by emission of greenhouse gases.
Radiative forcing (warming influence) of different contributors to climate change through 2019, as reported in the Sixth IPCC assessment report.
Atmospheric absorption and scattering at different wavelengths of electromagnetic waves. The largest absorption band of carbon dioxide is not far from the maximum in the thermal emission from ground, and it partly closes the window of transparency of water; hence its major effect.
Concentrations of carbon monoxide in the Spring and Fall of 2000 in the lower atmosphere showing a range from about 390 parts per billion (dark brown pixels), to 220 parts per billion (red pixels), to 50 parts per billion (blue pixels).
Increasing water vapor in the stratosphere at Boulder, Colorado
Schmidt et al. (2010) analysed how individual components of the atmosphere contribute to the total greenhouse effect. They estimated that water vapor accounts for about 50% of Earth's greenhouse effect, with clouds contributing 25%, carbon dioxide 20%, and the minor greenhouse gases and aerosols accounting for the remaining 5%. In the study, the reference model atmosphere is for 1980 conditions. Image credit: NASA.
The radiative forcing (warming influence) of long-lived atmospheric greenhouse gases has accelerated, almost doubling in 40 years.
Top: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured in the atmosphere and reflected in ice cores. Bottom: The amount of net carbon increase in the atmosphere, compared to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel.
400,000 years of ice core data
Recent year-to-year increase of atmospheric.
Major greenhouse gas trends.
The US, China and Russia have cumulatively contributed the greatest amounts of since 1850.

The vast majority of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions come from combustion of fossil fuels, principally coal, petroleum (including oil) and natural gas, with additional contributions from cement manufacturing, fertilizer production, deforestation and other changes in land use.

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot

Internal combustion engine

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot
Reciprocating engine of a car
Diesel generator for backup power
Bare cylinder block of a V8 engine
Piston, piston ring, gudgeon pin and connecting rod
Valve train above a Diesel engine cylinder head. This engine uses rocker arms but no pushrods.
Engine block seen from below. The cylinders, oil spray nozzle and half of the main bearings are clearly visible.
Diagram showing the operation of a 4-stroke SI engine. Labels:
1 ‐ Induction
2 ‐ Compression
3 ‐ Power
4 ‐ Exhaust
Diagram of a crankcase scavenged 2-stroke engine in operation
Diagram of uniflow scavenging
Bosch magneto
Points and coil ignition
Diagram of an engine using pressurized lubrication
P-V diagram for the ideal Diesel cycle. The cycle follows the numbers 1–4 in clockwise direction.
Turbofan jet engine
Turbine power plant
Brayton cycle
The Wankel rotary cycle. The shaft turns three times for each rotation of the rotor around the lobe and once for each orbital revolution around the eccentric shaft.
One-cylinder gasoline engine, c. 1910
Electric starter as used in automobiles

ICEs are typically powered by fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil.

The flames caused as a result of a fuel undergoing combustion (burning)

Combustion

High-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke.

High-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke.

The flames caused as a result of a fuel undergoing combustion (burning)
Air pollution abatement equipment provides combustion control for industrial processes.
The combustion of methane, a hydrocarbon.
Colourized gray-scale composite image of the individual frames from a video of a backlit fuel droplet burning in microgravity.
A general scheme of polymer combustion
Antoine Lavoisier conducting an experiment related to combustion generated by amplified sun light.

The thermal energy produced from combustion of either fossil fuels such as coal or oil, or from renewable fuels such as firewood, is harvested for diverse uses such as cooking, production of electricity or industrial or domestic heating.

A lump of peat

Peat

Accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter.

Accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter.

A lump of peat
Peat stacks in Südmoslesfehn (district of Oldenburg, Germany) in 2013
Peat gatherers at Westhay, Somerset Levels in 1905
Peat extraction in East Frisia, Germany
Peat in Lewis, Scotland
PEATMAP is a GIS shapefile dataset that shows a distribution of peatlands that covers the entire world
A peat stack in Ness on the Isle of Lewis (Scotland)
Worked bank in blanket bog, near Ulsta, Yell, Shetland Islands
Falkland Islanders shovelling peat in the 1950s
Peat fire
The Toppila Power Station, a peat-fired facility in Oulu, Finland
Industrial-milled peat production in a section of the Bog of Allen in the Irish Midlands: The 'turf' in the foreground is machine-produced for domestic use.
Shatura Power Station. Russia has the largest peat power capacity in the world
The Bor Peat Briquette Factory, Russia
Peat covered area (brown) 2,500 years ago in the Netherlands
The Netherlands compared to sealevel
Peat hags at the start of Allt Lagan a' Bhainne tributary on Eilrig
Increase, and change relative to previous year, of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.
Smoke and ozone pollution from Indonesian fires, 1997

Over time, the formation of peat is often the first step in the geological formation of fossil fuels such as coal, particularly low-grade coal such as lignite.

A woman in rural Rajasthan, India, collects firewood. The use of wood and other polluting fuels for cooking causes millions of deaths each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Sustainable energy

Sustainable if it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Sustainable if it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

A woman in rural Rajasthan, India, collects firewood. The use of wood and other polluting fuels for cooking causes millions of deaths each year from indoor and outdoor air pollution.
World map showing where people without access to electricity lived in 2016⁠—mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent
Global energy usage is highly unequal. High income countries such as the United States and Canada use 100 times as much energy per capita as some of the least developed countries in Africa.
Growth of renewables was 45% larger in 2020 compared to 2019, including a 90% rise in global wind capacity additions (green) and a 23% expansion of new solar photovoltaic installations (yellow).
A photovoltaic power station in California, United States
Wind turbines in Xinjiang, China
Guri Dam, a hydroelectric dam in Venezuela
Cooling towers at a geothermal power plant in Larderello, Italy
Kenyan dairy farmer lighting a biogas lamp. Biogas produced from biomass is a renewable energy source that can be burned for cooking or light.
A sugarcane plantation to produce ethanol in Brazil
Since 1985, the proportion of electricity generated from low-carbon sources has increased only slightly. Advances in deploying renewables have been mostly offset by declining shares of nuclear power.
Energy use in industry caused 24.2% of all GHG emissions in 2016. Energy use in buildings and transport caused 17.5% and 16.2% of emissions, respectively. Another 9.5% of emissions came from other energy uses and 5.8% were fugitive emissions from the production of fossil fuels.
Buildings in the Solar Settlement at Schlierberg, Germany, produce more energy than they consume. They incorporate rooftop solar panels and are built for maximum energy efficiency.
Battery storage facility
The outdoor section of a heat pump. In contrast to oil and gas boilers, they use electricity and are highly efficient. As such, electrification of heating can significantly reduce emissions.
Utility cycling infrastructure, such as this bike lane in Vancouver, encourages sustainable transport.
Passive cooling features, such as these windcatcher towers in Iran, bring cool air into buildings without any use of energy.
For cooking, electric induction stoves are one of the most energy-efficient and safest options.
Several countries and the European Union have committed to dates for all new cars to be zero-emissions vehicles.
Electrified heat and transport are key areas of investment for the renewable energy transition.

Fossil fuels provide 85% of the world's energy consumption and the energy system is responsible for 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Cars and trucks driving on a divided highway, Highway401 in Ontario, Canada

Car

Wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation.

Wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation.

Cars and trucks driving on a divided highway, Highway401 in Ontario, Canada
Steam Machine Of Verbiest, In 1678. (Ferdinand Verbiest)
Cugnot's 1771 fardier à vapeur, as preserved at the Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France
Gustave Trouvé's tricycle, the first ever electric automobile to be shown in public
Carl Benz, the inventor of the modern car
The original Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept
Bertha Benz, the first long distance driver
Émile Levassor
Armand Peugeot
Ransom E. Olds founded Olds Motor Vehicle Company (Oldsmobile) in 1897
Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903
1927 Ford Model T
Kiichiro Toyoda, president of the Toyota Motor Corporation 1941–1950
Mass production at a Toyota plant in the 1950s
The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car of all-time
2011 Nissan Leaf electric car
Low battery and motors can improve safety
In the Ford Model T the left-side hand lever sets the rear wheel parking brakes and puts the transmission in neutral. The lever to the right controls the throttle. The lever on the left of the steering column is for ignition timing. The left foot pedal changes the two forward gears while the centre pedal controls reverse. The right pedal is the brake.
Panel for fuses and circuit breakers
Audi A4 daytime running lights
The Smart Fortwo car from 1998 to 2002, weighing 730 kg
A Chevrolet Suburban extended-length SUV weighs 7200 lb (gross weight)
Result of a serious car collision
Road congestion is an issue in many major cities. (pictured is Chang'an Avenue in Beijing)
Vehicles in use per country from 2001 to 2007. It shows the significant growth in BRIC.
A robotic Volkswagen Passat shown at Stanford University is a driverless car
A car being assembled in a factory
The Vélib' in Paris, France is the largest bikesharing system outside China

Most cars in use in the early 2020s are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by the combustion of fossil fuels.

Fossil-fuel subsidies per capita, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies per capita are measured in constant US dollars.

Fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil-fuel subsidies per capita, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies per capita are measured in constant US dollars.
Fossil-fuel subsidies as a share of GDP, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies are given as a share of total gross domestic product.

Fossil fuel subsidies are energy subsidies on fossil fuels.