Past, Present and Future of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels have been used throughout the world for more than 200 years. Their high energy density, low cost and transportability have led to their increasing use as a primary source of energy. But, as these fuels accelerate global warming at an increasingly alarming rate, we need to find viable ways to decarbonize the energy system. To do that, we need to understand the evolution of these fuels, their complex connections with economies, societies and the environment, and their potential to contribute to, not hinder, energy generation in a low-carbon future.

This online course will review the historical importance of fossil fuels and current developments in shale gas and tight oil revolutions. You will examine opportunities for natural gas to play a role as ‘bridge fuel’ toward a low carbon future.

Short videos, online exercises and a quick knowledge check at the end.

  • Understand the environmental impacts of fossil fuels development
  • Learn how conventional and unconventional gas resources are used
  • Interpret the potential of natural gas as society moves to a decarbonized energy system
  • Evaluate how carbon capture technologies and energy storage could be applied responsibly for the continued use of fossil fuels

Course Page
Online, self-paced
6 hours
Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies Program
Stanford School of Engineering