Biofuels: the pros



A more ancient technology is bioenergy – that is, deriving power from the burning of wood and other vegetative combustibles. From Prehistoric times, humans have harnessed the power of fire by burning wood to create warmth and light, to cook food, smelt metals and make pottery.

Wood is still very widely used as a fuel in many parts of the ‘developing’ world. In some countries, other biofuels such as animal dung (ultimately also derived from the growth of plants) are also used. Such traditional biofuels are estimated to supply some 11 per centof world primary energy, though the data are somewhat uncertain.

If the forests that provide wood fuel are re-planted at the same rate as they are cut down, then such fuel use should in principle be sustainable. When forests are managed sustainably in this way, the CO2 absorbed in growing replacement trees should equal the CO2 given off when the original trees are burned

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