Fossil fuels, as the name might suggest, have been around for quite some time. Formed millions of years ago, fossil fuels have been created from the remains of living organisms, like plants and animals, which were trapped under deposits and became buried. Over time, compression fossilised the remains, creating carbon-rich fuel sources such as coal, oil and natural gas.
While fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago, we’ve only been using them for fuel for a fairly short period of time – just over 200 years. However, we’ve consumed a huge amount of them since then, leading many people to ask how long it will be until they run out.
Our fossil fuel reserves are finite, meaning they won’t last forever. It’s only a matter of time before they run out – especially at the rate we’re currently using them. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.
The question of exactly when fossil fuels will run out isn’t a straightforward one. Different sources will give different estimates, with no universally agreed timeframe. There are lots of different factors that need to be taken into account, such as which fossil fuel we’re looking at, our current and future usage levels and whether we discover any more reserves.
If we keep burning fossil fuels at our current rate, it’s estimated that our known oil deposits will be gone by 2052, with natural gas and coal only lasting until 2060. New reserves will probably be found before this point, extending the deadline somewhat, but the clock is still ticking.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels. And as the name suggests, these sources are renewable and won’t run out. If you’re interested in switching to a more renewable energy supply, why not take a look at our Green Pioneer tariff, which comes with 100% renewable electricity.