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Energy Resources

IGCSE Geography resources


  • The most abundant but also most polluting of the fossil fuels.
  • Large reserves of coal remain in many countries and are often located near close to the surface. It is the cheapest fossil fuel to extract in most cases.
  • Coal fired power stations are being built on a large scale in some LEDCs such as China to power industrialisation.
  • New technologies are being developed that allow cleaner burning of coal (Carbon Capture & Storage).


  • Crude oil has become the fossil fuel that most economies rely on for their energy and transportation needs.
  • Large reserves have been exploited and many people argue that we are currently nearing the peak and facing future shortages.
  • New reserves such as the Alberta Tar sands have become economically viable due to the rising price of oil.
  • Oil is less polluting than coal but more than natural gas.
  • Many of the oils major reserves are in the Middle East.
oil storage

Natural Gas

  • The cleanest of the fossil fuels in terms of air pollution.
  • Large reserves of gas have been found in layers of shale underground in many countries.
  • The avility to compress it to a liquid for transportation makes it easier and cost effective to move large distances on tankers & through pipelines.
  • Many developed economies are increasingly relying on gas for domestic use (heating, cooking).
natural gas

Hydro-Electric Power

  • Electricity generated by released water spinning turbines. This requires fast flowing water or high water pressure (dams).
  • A very clean form of energy (after the intitial building of the dam).
  • Many of the most suitable rivers have already been used to harness HEP. New projects are larger in scale and the turbines are more efficient.
  • HEP dams destroy large areas of vegetation & can cause environmental problems downstrean due to changes in river flow.
hydro-electric dam


  • An increasingly popular form of power generation.
  • Initial set up costs are high.
  • There has been opposition to wind farms in many places due to the impact on the scenery, noise pollution and danger to birds.
  • Large offshore wind farms are being developed but these required considerable investment and need infrastructure to deliver the power to where it is used.
  • Larger windmills are increasing efficiency.
wind turbine


  • Wood is non-renewable in the sense that once it is burn it is used.
  • It is regarded as a sustainable resources since if forests are managed it will regenerate and provide a continuous supply.
  • Wood is used primarily in LEDCs for fuel for heating and cooking.
  • Deforestation in mny LEDCs due to demand for wood as a fuel is leading to major environmental problems such as soil erosion, desertification and increased flooding.
  • Efficient wood burners & maanagement strategies are helping.
wind turbine


  • Using the heat of the earth to generate power.
  • It is commonly used as a source of heating for buildings through pipes that heat water underground & then run through houses.
  • In some places it is used to generate electricity by using the steam to turn turbines Indonesia & the U.S.A.
  • There are few negative side effects of geothermal power.
  • It is very expensive to set up but then requires no additional fuel once established.
geothermal power