Wood fuel is now a significant energy source in alternative and renewable energy projects across the world, especially in Europe that receives part of its supplies from Brænde that caters to the people of Denmark. However, the choice of wood fuel has always invited controversy because there have been concerns about ecological imbalance created due to wide-scale felling of trees that leads to deforestation. Another misconception about using wood as fuel is that it emits carbon dioxide. But the carbon dioxide content is much lower than other fuels because wood releases only as much carbon dioxide that it retains during its lifetime.
However, it is possible to source firewood from controlled and sustainably managed forests by using proper technology and replanting biomass regularly to fight the threat of deforestation. It helps to maintain a steady supply of carbon-neutral source of energy that does not have any adverse effect on the environment and does not harm wildlife habitat.
Wood fuel popularly sold as firewood is available in many forms like chips, pellets, briquettes, charcoal and sawdust. Use of firewood is mostly for heating indoors like using it in fireplaces and for generating hot water. Let us now look into the reasons behind choosing firewood as a sustainable and renewable energy source and discuss its downsides.
What’s good about firewood?
- Availability of firewood is never a problem as it comes in packages delivered at your doorstep. The wood is oven dried, and you must store it in a dry place to avoid moisture absorption that can reduce its heating efficiency. If you have a small storage space, you can order the wood in small lots for delivery within a few hours.
- Firewood or biomass is a cheaper alternative than fossil fuels and electricity. To generate the same amount of heat energy, the cost of firewood is almost half than that of oil and at least 4-5 times cheaper than electricity. While other alternatives to fossil fuel might call for high initial investment, it does not happen in the case of firewood.
- Wood fuel is an environment-friendly solution provided its sourcing happens from sustainably managed resources that focus on maintaining the ecological balance. Moreover, it is important to use the right technology like wood burning stoves to improve efficiency. Trees are trees no matter whether you use it for fuel or furniture and planting more trees to maintain the supply of firewood helps to build a habitat for wildlife and reduces the carbon dioxide content in the environment. Although wood fuel emits carbon dioxide, it is limited to the amount contained in wood that got accumulated during its lifetime and the nett carbon emission is zero.
- Sustainability is the biggest advantage of wood fuel because for every tree cut down; there are many more planted.
Handling wood fuel can cause some inconvenience because you must add fuel periodically to the fire manually to keep it burning and even stoke it from time to time to ensure proper burning. You cannot just light the fire and forget it.