Glossary:Fossil fuel

Fossil fuel is a generic term for non-renewable energy sources such as coal, coal products, natural gas, derived gas, crude oil, petroleum products and non-renewable wastes. These fuels originate from plants and animals that existed in the geological past (for example, millions of years ago). Fossil fuels can be also made by industrial processes from other fossil fuels (for example in the oil refinery, crude oil is transformed into motor gasoline).

For decades fossil fuels satisfy most of the human energy requirements. Fossil fuels are carbon-based and their combustion results in the release of carbon into the Earth's atmosphere (carbon that was stored hundreds of millions years ago). It is estimated that roughly 80% of all manmade CO2 and green-house gas emissions originate from fossil fuels combustion.

In energy statistics, fossil fuels cover:

  • Solid fossil fuels (aka coal)
    • Hard coal
      • Anthracite
      • Coking coal
      • Other Bituminous coal
    • Brown coal
      • Sub-bituminous coal
      • Lignite
    • Coal products
      • Patent fuel
      • Coke oven coke
      • Gas coke
      • Coal tar
      • Brown coal briquettes
  • Manufactured gases
    • Coke oven gas
    • Blast furnace gas
    • Gas works gas
    • Other recovered gases
  • Peat and peat products
    • Peat
    • Peat products
  • Oil shale and oil sands
  • Oil and petroleum products (excluding biofuel portion)
    • Crude oil, NGL, refinery feedstocks, additives and oxygenates and other hydrocarbons (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Crude oil
      • Natural gas liquids
      • Refinery feedstocks
      • Additives and oxygenates (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Other hydrocarbons
    • Oil products (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Refinery gas
      • Ethane
      • Liquefied petroleum gases
      • Motor gasoline (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Aviation gasoline
      • Gasoline-type jet fuel
      • Kerosene-type jet fuel (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Other kerosene
      • Naphtha
      • Gas oil and diesel oil (excluding biofuel portion)
      • Fuel oil
      • White spirit and special boiling point industrial spirits
      • Lubricants
      • Bitumen
      • Petroleum coke
      • Paraffin waxes
      • Other oil products
  • Natural gas
  • Non-renewable waste
    • Industrial waste (non-renewable)
    • Non-renewable municipal waste


Further information

Related concepts

Statistical data