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Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal have been the most popular sources of fuel over recent decades. Many power stations burn these fossil fuels to heat water, which subsequently produces steam that drives turbines to generate the electricity required by homes and businesses. Whilst this method helps to generate the large amount of electricity demanded, there are two major downsides. The first is that the burning process produces harmful gases which are released into the atmosphere and create pollution problems such as global warming and ozone layer depletion/destruction. The second major disadvantage is that unlike certain types of alternative energy detailed below, these sources of fuel are non-renewable, in that there is only a finite amount, and so once it is depleted it cannot be replaced.

Renewable sources of energy include solar, wind, wave/tidal etc. These harness natural occurrences to produce electricity, and so do not rely on the burning of finite resources. The availability of the input will always be available, until the world ends! Not burning fuel means that no harmful gases are released into the atmosphere. However, there are also disadvantages to renewable sources of energy too.

One disadvantage is that these methods struggle to produce the amount of electricity that a fossil fuel burning power station provides. For example, it is estimated that approximately 500 wind turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as one coal fired power station. Also, unlike fossil fuels which are guaranteed to burn and produce the electricity, renewable sources are at the mercy of nature, in that if the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow then solar panels and wind farms will be ineffective.

Another disadvantage, linked to the struggle to produce sufficient quantities of energy, is that the equipment needed to harness the natural forces often needs to be extremely large. This can be extremely controversial and cause major protests by the people who live near a proposed site who have to cope with things such as large wind towers spoiling the natural landscape.


Environmental considerations are becoming more and more of an issue to organisations, whether due to legal, financial or moral/brand awareness reasons. For this reasons, a number of health and safety courses and qualifications now include environmental modules on their respective syllabus. There are also specific environmental qualifications such as the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate and Diploma, which are some of the most respected health and safety environmental qualifications available and are extremely sought after by many potential employers.




Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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