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Wood energy, a solution for ecological transition?

Wood energy refers to wood as a material for producing energy. It is the first source of renewable energy used throughout the world. Despite the controversies linked to its use as fuel, it could prove to be a real solution to the ecological transition. Explanations.

Wood, a material that comes in various forms

Wood energy generally comes in three forms, namely: logs, forest chips and pellets.

  • Logs represent the rawest form of wood energy. They are between 25 and 50 cm long. They are mainly used for heating.
  • Forest chips, on the other hand, are quite small and come in the form of shredded cubes. They are obtained from forest residues. Completely dry, they are very energy efficient.
  • The granules are presented in the form of small cylinders one to three centimeters long. They are made from sawdust or compacted wood residue. They are also energy efficient, since their humidity levels are very low.

Wood energy, significant advantages

Ecological organizations strongly criticize the use of wood energy because of the risks of deforestation. Nevertheless, the exploitation of this energy resource represents numerous undeniable advantages. First of all, it is renewable energy, since the forest regenerates.

Then, wood energy production can be fully controlled and predictable. It is possible to determine in advance the quantity to be produced based on demand. In addition, forests constitute a renewable source.

The production of wood energy is also inexpensive. In fact, the exploitation of this material is 2 to 4 times cheaper than that of fossil fuels. Finally, other forms of wood energy such as forest chips fall within the zero waste policy. This resource is obtained following scraps of material not used by the wood industries.

Wood energy in a few figures

If we look at some figures concerning wood energy, France has nearly 15 million hectares of forest throughout the country. This represents almost a third of the total surface area of ​​the country. Nearly 50% of the natural growth of the forest is taken annually. In other words, if we continue at this pace, there should be no risk of deforestation in the years to come.

Wood energy is undoubtedly the most promising material in the field of renewable energies in France. In 2015 alone, it represented almost 40% of the total production of this sector. In 2016, a law was adopted to promote the energy transition in France. Thus, it is expected that renewable energies, including wood energy, will occupy between 30 and 40% of the total energy consumption of the French population by 2030.

Finally, it is interesting to know that a forest would reconstitute itself between 5 and 200 years, which is 1 million times faster compared to oil or coal.