Using Wood Biomass for Energy Production

Forest-based biomass is gaining interest as a potential renewable industrial energy source. The potential of this resource is examined through four different aspects: environmental, social, economic, and technological. Ultimately, forest biomass is concluded to be best used for energy after primary utilization as a construction material or other feedstock.

Although wood had been both a major energy source and construction material up until the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution led to a movement towards increased usage of fossil fuels as an energy source and an important feedstock in the production of modern construction materials (e.g., steel). In spite of this history, recent concern over climate change is driving reconsideration of the role of natural products, including forest biomass, in a modern energy economy. The authors enumerate many of the legislative measures which have led to this renewed interest as well.

On examination of the forest bioenergy industry through the lenses of the environmental, social, economic, and technological aspects, the authors conclude that there are a large number of counterbalancing factors. Ultimately, they do not either recommend or reject the utilization of forest-based biofuels, but instead caution that development of climate policy in this area needs to carefully evaluate the social and economic cost of increased timber consumption.

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The original full article can be found at De Gruyter here.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/frp-2015-0009
Forest Research Papers. 2015, 76 (1), 78–87.

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