GCSE Physics Revision: Fossil Fuels: Advantages & Disadvantages

5th April 2017

GCSE Physics Revision - New Science Syllabus 2017

Fossil Fuels - Key Facts


Fossil Fuels. Now these are types of fuel which are non-renewable. That means that when we run out of them, there is no way to create more. Fuels which are classified as fossil fuels are:


  • Coal

  • Oil

  • Natural gas


They were formed millions of years ago and the important thing is that, when they are burned they create heat energy which we use in very many different ways. The process of burning releases the chemical energy stored within them.


Power stations are often powered by fossil fuels. The energy used to power the station is created through the following process, using coal as an example:

→ coal is burned releasing the chemical energy stored inside it as heat energy

→ the heat creates water and steam

→ this heat energy is transferred as movement energy to the turbines which creates movement

→ this movement powers the generator which creates electricity


There are many advantages to using fossil fuels. They include:


  • They are relatively cheap

  • They are relatively easy to get hold of

  • Much of our infrastructure, such as our power stations, are designed to run off fossil fuels


However, there are many significant drawbacks also, and these have been highlighted in particular over the last few years. These include:


  • Their supply is limited and it is only a matter of time before they run out

  • Coal and oil release sulfur dioxide when they burn which contributes to the production of acid rain

  • They release carbon dioxide when they burn which adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming which is already a significant problem

These are the key points which will help you answer the questions in your GCSE Physics Exam this summer! Remember to visit our song on Fossil Fuels and also more songs about Energy such as Energy transfers - this will help you on your way to success!


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