Factors that can play a role in sustaining growth while optimal use of energy
- Category: Energy Systems
- Published: Monday, 28 April 2014 08:19
- Written by Sharad Gandhi
- Hits: 2511
There are many avenues which can reduce the need of the fossil fuel, increase availability of energy and is balanced without compromising on the growth. A few are listed hereunder:
(1) Integrated forest management (Leveraging the Natural Process of energy harvesting and storage)
The solar energy is naturally harvested by trees & plants and is stored in the form of bio-mass or wood. This natural process is very efficient and self replicating. This is also localized and reduces dependency on transportation.
It has been long established by various world leading organization such as FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of UN) and many studies that wood and agriculture products are the most sustainable way to fulfill energy needs of human. Wood fuel also has a key environmental benefit over fossil fuels in that wood is ‘carbon neutral’. Wood is, in effect, stored solar energy – a renewable resource. Furthermore, wood-fuel production has a “high” ripple economic and employment effect.
Figure: An Old Lady collects firewood for livelihood in Orrisa,India, Dec 2013
Recent publications in the leading newspapers and journals indicate that wood is being considered as the alternate source of energy. The Economists envisages how the Wood is “The fuel of Future” (Apr 2013) and mentions that the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood. In its various forms, from sticks to pellets to sawdust, wood (or to use its fashionable name, biomass), it accounts for about half of Europe’s renewable-energy consumption. It further emphasis that, if wood used in a power station comes from properly managed forests, then the carbon that billows out of the chimney can be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in newly planted trees. However, this was further highlighted how carbon neutrality depends on the type of forest used, how fast the trees grow, whether you use woodchips or whole trees and so on.
In Nov 2013 article, NY reports that “Power Plants Try Burning Wood With Coal to Cut Carbon Emissions”. Power companies in the US are finding an emission improvement benefit, and an economic benefit. One boiler of the Minnesota Power’s is running on 90% wood-fuel.
Bio-Diesel is also considered sustainable way to make the energy available locally for various purposes; however, its scalability has not proven till date in terms of collecting the seeds and producing the oil effectively.
FAO further highlights how Finland is setting an example in sustainable forest management and how the many and varied innovations emerging from Finland's forestry sector can help, not only Finland, but the rest of Europe, in achieving the goal of greening their economies. Wood, unlike fossil fuels, is a renewable resource, because trees regrow as the result of seed sowing, replanting and natural regeneration. Finland's work in developing innovative wood products, is demonstrating how wood can be used as a greener option not only in traditional industries such as construction and pulp and paper production.
In India, the fuel is still a scarce resource in remote area and a large population collects the fire wood from jungle and burns it for their daily needs. A recent photograph indicates how this dependency on the energy is creating a big challenge in rural area. This clearly indicates that an integrated forest management is needed (similar to one tried and tested in Finland) along with the use of latest technology to make the energy supply reaches to the rural household and rural industry.
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