Wood as a Power Source

For this post, I wanted to look at a power source that has become less prevalent over time, simply because more efficient energy sources have been found.  Wood is the first energy source humans ever discovered and used, primarily as a source of light and to cook food.  It was never intended to power cars, or power homes on a large scale.  Gas, Oil, and Electricity now make up the bulk of our energy, as they are more convenient and effective for our needs.  However, after doing some research, I learned that wood is still the primary power source for a lot of people around the globe, primarily in the developing world.  According to the food and agriculture organization of the united nations “more than two billion people depend on wood energy for cooking and heating.”  In countries where electricity isn’t widely available wood is the easiest source of energy to use, as all it requires is people finding trees and cutting them down.  (Source)

Wood is a renewable source since it is something that is planted and can obviously regrow over and over again.  Using wood as one of the primary power sources for developed countries at a huge scale is probably not feasible.  However, if countries want to use more renewable energy, wood could certainly play a role in this.  According to forestry focus, “wood from sustainably managed forests, when used as an energy source, does not add extra carbon to the atmosphere as the carbon released through its combustion and/or decay is taken up by replacement trees. The net effect is that wood is carbon neutral if it comes from well managed forests.” One developed country, Ireland, is currently trying to increase its reliance on wood as a power source, and is exploring several options to do so.  The Irish government is funding research that looks at how wood can be used on a larger scale logistically, and having test runs on supply chains, alongside promoting the use of wood as a renewable source.  (Source)

5 thoughts on “Wood as a Power Source

  1. This is very interesting. As the United States advances technologically in methods of renewable energy, we tend to overlook primitive energy sources such as wood. You do a great job highlighting the importance wood-based energy not only in the United States, but in the world as well. Also the idea surrounding the tree farms and their non existent carbon additions to the atmosphere represent an important idea that should be pursued in the future.

  2. It’s really interesting to think of wood as a renewable and sustainable source of energy. It’s something I hadn’t thought of previously, but now makes sense. While, as you mention, using wood as a primary source of energy for fully developed first-world countries is not a reasonable alternative, it is something that should be considered on a smaller-scale, perhaps in combination with other alternative sources.

  3. I agree with Thomas and Justin that it is interesting to think about wood as an energy source, especially because new technological advances steer us away from forms of energy that were used in the past. But using wood on a small scale can be very effective especially in areas which have a more difficult time accessing other types of energy sources

  4. I had no idea that more than 2 billion people rely on wood as their primary energy source. It’s interesting to think that the most simple source of energy is overlooked. Do you think it is plausible that the United States could implement this for energy uses? I feel like it might be too difficult but I’m not sure.

  5. It was super interesting to read about how long wood as been around and how beneficial it is to people, especially in the more developing world. I had no idea that literally millions of people rely on this source, and it makes me happy that that many people rely on a fully sustainable resource.

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