• Question: Which of all the fossil fuels is being used up the fastest?

    Asked by KarenM to Ahmed, Francesca, James on 20 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: James Sullivan

      James Sullivan answered on 20 Nov 2014:

      Hi Karen,

      we reckon Crude oil will be gone first (53 years) – followed by gas (59 years) and then coal (109 years).

      the thing to remember about these figures is they change. The change downwards as we increase our use of energy, but upwards as more reserves are found and as uneconomic reserves become economic.

      Since about 1905 scientists have been saying there are 50 years of oil left…..

    • Photo: Francesca Paradisi

      Francesca Paradisi answered on 20 Nov 2014:

      Hi Karen!
      I found a great website that shows how much fossil fuel we have available and how quickly it will be consumed. https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/energy-independence/the-end-of-fossil-fuels

      It looks like oil will finish first, followed by gas and finally by coal, and everything will be used up by 2088 if no alternative sources are used to minimise the consumption of fossil fuels. Scary!!

    • Photo: Ahmed Osman

      Ahmed Osman answered on 20 Nov 2014:

      Hi KarenM,
      Thanks for this brilliant question
      For sure oil will finish firstly.
      Clearly fossil fuel reserves are finite – it’s only a matter of when they run out – not if. Globally – every year we currently consume the equivalent of over 11 billion tonnes of oil in fossil fuels. Crude oil reserves are vanishing at the rate of 4 billion tonnes a year1 – if we carry on at this rate without any increase for our growing population or aspirations, our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052.

      We’ll still have gas left, and coal too. But if we increase gas production to fill the energy gap left by oil, then those reserves will only give us an additional eight years, taking us to 2060. But the rate at which the world consumes fossil fuels is not standing still, it is increasing as the world’s population increases and as living standards rise in parts of the world that until recently had consumed very little energy. Fossil Fuels will therefore run out earlier.

      It’s often claimed that we have enough coal to last hundreds of years. But if we step up production to fill the gap left through depleting our oil and gas reserves, the coal deposits we know about will only give us enough energy to take us as far as 2088. And let’s not even think of the carbon dioxide emissions from burning all that coal.

      Hope this helps 🙂