As a matter of fact, wood warming is convenient: it costs the half of fossil flues. Thank to new technologies (Automatic boilers, pellets stoves, thermo-fireplaces, etc), the use of firewood for energy production is nowadays handy, clean, reliable and highly efficient.
Nowadays, more than 2 millions people depends on firewood or wood coal for domestic energy production. In the 40 poorest country in the world, firewood meets the 70% of the total energy demand. The FAO estimates that, at the moment, more than 100 million people suffers the “firewood hunger” and that at least one billion people suffers a chronic shortage of wood. This is especially true for South-East of Asia, the Central Africa, India and in the Central and Caribbean America. Besides domestic employment, the percentage of firewood consumption is highly raised by the small business and urban area demand.
The wood combustion is neutral in respect to carbon dioxide emission (as a matter of fact, the produced CO2 is the same fixed by trees through photosynthesis). Hence, the energetic employment of firewood can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse effect gas emission and to the fulfilment of Kyoto protocol requirements. This is the rationale of the rising support that public corporations are giving to the employment of firewood as source of energy.
This thesis is strongly supported by the Italian agronomists. The head of the agronomist association recently declared that “it is normal that agronomists deal with the wood, a product of forests and fields, and that they dedicate themselves in making the most of its uses, also by considering that it is one of the most promising renewable source of energy for the future. Nowadays, the firewood has a efficiency that is comparable with gas and oil and produces very low emissions that make null new CO2 contributions, allowing a reduction of 50-70% in combustibles”.
All the same, not all the studies are in agreement about the environmental benefits that a massive employment of firewood would produce. According to a recent study, only a small fraction of firewood derives from the loss of trees; most of it derives from sustainable productions or from by-products of deforestation and natural tree death. So, by considering the net balance of the greenhouse gas production, the employment of high-efficiency wood-burning stoves in order to minimize the wood demand could produce a general increase of greenhouse gases. As a matter of fact, the increment in the heat transfer takes place at the expense of the combustion efficiency.