Full Title: Wood Energy in Developed Economies: An Overlooked Renewable
Author(s): Francisco Aguilar
Publisher(s): Resources for the Future
Publication Date: January 1, 2015
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Considered to be the first form of energy harnessed by humans, wood was long the primary source of heat and illumination for people in every corner of the globe. Today, it is estimated that more than 2 billion people in developing countries rely primarily on wood and other forest products for their daily cooking and heating needs, causing the public to associate the use of such resources with tropical deforestation and poverty. Meanwhile, energy headlines in developed economies have been dominated by stories about coal and oil since the mid-1800s, making it easy to forget that the exploitation of those fossil sources by humans has been a relatively recent development. Both ideas—that energy derived from forests is used primarily in developing nations and that its importance in the energy portfolios of developed economies is negligible—fail to capture the reality of current energy markets. Wood energy represents the leading source of renewable energy in many developed countries across North America and Europe. And in the United States, wood energy accounts for 25 percent of renewable energy consumption, second only to hydropower and more prominent than wind and solar energy. This high level of generation has been achieved thanks to healthy forest resources supported by a combination of recent market and policy developments.