Wood energy, a solution for the ecological transition?

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

Wood, a material that comes in various forms

Energy wood generally comes in three forms, namely: logs, forest chips and pellets.

  • Logs are the rawest form of energy wood. They are between 25 and 50 cm long. They are mainly used for heating.
  • Woodchips, on the other hand, are quite small and come in the form of jagged cubes. They are obtained from forest residues. Completely dry, they are very energy efficient.
  • The granules are presented in the form of small cylinders from one to three centimeters long. They are made from sawdust or compact wood residues. They are also energy efficient, given that their moisture content is very low.

Energy wood, significant advantages

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

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

The production of wood energy is also inexpensive. Indeed, the exploitation of this material is 2 to 4 times less expensive than that of fossil fuels. Finally, other forms of wood energy such as wood chips are part of the zero waste policy. This resource is obtained from scrap material not used by the wood industries.

Energy wood in a few figures

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

Wood energy is unquestionably the most promising material in the field of renewable energies in France. In 2015 alone, it accounted for nearly 40% of total production in this sector. In 2016, a law was adopted to promote 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 recover between 5 and 200 years, which is 1 million times faster compared to oil or coal.