Trees: The Next Big Thing in Renewable Energy?
Thursday, October 27, 2022 12:24:22 PM America/Los_Angeles
It’s no surprise that trees are key to sustainability plans. Yet, when we think about renewable energy, trees aren’t usually the first thing to come into mind. In addition to their lengthier growth time, their maintenance requires a number of resources that make trees unlikely candidates for renewable energy. However, new ideas are starting to take root about how trees might be one of the most sustainable choices when it comes to renewable energy.
Photo by Matt Artz
What Is Renewable Energy?
Before getting into why trees may be a great source of renewable energy, we should discuss what exactly “renewable energy” means. Renewable energy simply refers to energy that comes from sources that are naturally replenished within a human timescale. In other words, even if energy is derived from a naturally replenishing source, if it can’t happen relatively rapidly – rapid enough for humans to use multiple times throughout their lifetime – then, it wouldn’t be considered a renewable resource. This is why solar power is extremely beneficial for sustainability efforts. In addition to being a constant and reliable source, the sun does not lose power from humans relying on its energy.
Why Are Trees Considered a Good Source of Renewable Energy?
Up till now, trees have often been overlooked as a source of renewable energy because of the resources and labor that are required in maintaining them. However, experts are now finding that the benefits may outweigh the costs.
Trees and other living things store energy even after they die. This material can be turned into biomass energy that is burned in order to extract the energy from the biomass. As you might imagine, harvesting biomass can be one way to take advantage of the energy that trees store while refraining from investing more resources into growing them. Another reason that trees are an ideal source of renewable energy is that they also offset carbon emissions as they grow. If trees are farmed in order to create biomass, careful planning might reap additional benefits that feed into an ecosystem’s needs.
While popularizing the idea of tree biomass as renewable energy won’t happen overnight, it does offer yet another glimpse into the many riches that trees offer. And it should encourage us to further nurture these magnificent plants that populate the planet and make sustainable living possible. Unlike other sources of renewable energy, trees are singular in their ability to benefit the earth and its people.
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