Supply and demand
A variety of fuels are used to generate electricity. You need to know about the advantages and disadvantages of using different fuels.
About three-quarters of the electricity generated in the UK comes from power stations fuelled by fossil fuels. To the right is an energy transfer diagram for the generation of electricity from a fossil fuel such as coal.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources. Their supply is limited and they will eventually run out. Fossil fuels do not renew themselves, while fuels such as wood can be renewed endlessly.
Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide when they burn, which adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming. Of the three fossil fuels, for a given amount of energy released, coal produces the most carbon dioxide and natural gas produces the least.
Coal and oil release sulphur dioxide gas when they burn, which causes breathing problems for living creatures and contributes to acid rain.
Video: The use and impact of fossil fuels