Why Using Wood in Renewable Energy Calculations is Just…Silly

I’m quote directly from Howard Hayden’s amazing book, “Energy: A Textbook.”  You should buy this book actually, if you are at all interested in energy. Not a tough read. You will have to pause and let the stuff sink in, but you can grasp it AND you will be a better person for the effort. Trust me on that.

Dr. Hayden states “(t)he around the clock average of sustainable heat production of firewood from untended forests is about one-eighth of a watt per square meter of land.” (page 38).

Look, I get that using firewood for heat is not the same as burning wood to produce electricity.  However, do you see how inefficient the burning of wood is? Of course, this doesn’t even take into consideration how many people each year die from breathing the smoke of burning wood.

If the goal is truly RENEWING the source of our energy consumption and we were to rely solely on the burning of wood, we’d be out of trees in no time.  Again to quote Dr. Hayden, “It is common wisdom in heavily forested areas you can get firewood sustainably from the forest at the rate of half-cord per acre per year.” (emphasis mine)

Half-cord per acre acre per year!  Do you know how much wood a half cord is?  A full cord is all of a “stack of four-foot logs, four feet high and eight feet long.” So a half cord is half that. And that’s what you get per each acre of heavily forested land???

Folks, that’s is NOT sustainable and if it’s not sustainable, it’s certainly not renewable.

If you are truly into measuring renewable and sustainable energy production I don’t see how you can incorporate the burning of wood into your calculations.

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