Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
PV & firewood is an ideal combination for me at least!

For example, this morning the glorious sun is out (at last!) and just cleared an old growth pine tree, pouring through my windows, reflecting off the newly fallen snow, and saturating my PV panels with wonderfully free photons and charging my batteries while hot water is hissing downstairs on my wood-fired stove and home-baked bread is toasting.

"Free" energy use doesn't get much better than this!

Anyone else use this great combination of high-tech (PV) and low tech (simple woodstove) to meet most of their household energy needs?

I say it's ideal because many of us who have a stand-alone PV system are rural dwellers who also may own a few acres of woods. I have 30 acres of mixed pine-oak upland and ash-conifer wetland and the amount of fuelwood I can gather just by cleaning up the forest and cutting cull trees with my chainsaw is staggering. That is while still following good ecological principles and creating a more aesthetic old growth pine forest (120+ year red pines) in the process.

Not only do I use a woodstove to heat my home, but I also have 2 other rock ovens (one inside and one outside) to bake bread, etc. in year round. Plus I have another stove outside to heat water during the summer months. In total I burn fuelwood in 4 different stoves for 3 different purposes. PV takes care of my lighting, computer, radio, fan, TV, and some cooling.

What else is there?

It's a "systems" approach to rural independance and sustainable living offgrid and it WORKS!
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Comments

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    Anyone else use this great combination of high-tech (PV) and low tech (simple woodstove) to meet most of their household energy needs?

    Sort of… my mostly all-electric suburban home has an old Grizzly wood-burning stove (WBS) insert in the family room fire place. The WBS features a fan-forced air-to-air heat exchanger. We use the WBS to heat our house on weekends in the late fall, winter, and early spring. The fan is powered from my PV energy system described in my signature.

    We use a whole-house gas furnace with a set-back thermostat during the week. I figure the WBS and PV system cuts out gas bill by 50%. Wood is usually available either free or available at a very low cost.

    I agree: Cool!

    Thanks,
    Jim / crewzer
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Hi, I'm in a similar boat, have solar as per signature soon to increase to 2.4 kw then to 4 kw. Have a WBS installed which has a backboiler built in, not hooked up yet. Fire is on 24/7 only source of heat at moment, smoke flue is hidden in false wall with homemade heat exchanger and inline fan ducting down stairs and flue warms main bedroom upstairs. I have evac tube solar water heaters and twin solar coil hot tank to be fitted, with tankerless gas heater for back up.

    Being an ex city dweller with gas ch and mains electricty all myadult life till a year ago, surprisingly off grid life keeps us pleasantly active, chopping wood, keeping the fire going, another 2 years should see the house finished all solar in ! wind turbine up and virtually zero LPG usage zero diesel for backup, thats the dream, not forgetting the non hybrid 70 mpg family car ;)

    Love the forum.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 927 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Over 25 years of chiseling down the Kwhours included wood heat for all that time of course. Most of that time with LPG cooking too. The insurance company still thinks we use the forced air electric furnace (15kwper hour):p.

    By the time we cut the utility umbilicus we went from about 22kwh per day down to 7 or so. Getting rid of the electric H20 heater clipped the daily use from 13kwh to the targeted 7...almost half our consumption was hot water.

    A friend of min off grid has a LPG furnace which uses more power than he calculated it would...any experiences with MSW inverters and furnaces?

    ralph
  • skflyfishskflyfish Registered Users Posts: 20
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Oh ya, PV and wood heat too.

    My 810 watt PV array runs my fans on my Quadra-fire wood burning insert, except during the dirth of November and December when I have to switch back and forth from the grid to RE based on how little sun we are getting. My wood burning insert runs 24/7. I use propane for backup heat, hot water and cooking. I have lowered my on grid usage to 2 to 3 kwh/day and only used 250 gallons of propane last year. The only time I really draw from the grid is when the outside temp get to zero F or below and I have to provide some heat to my pump room.

    I had hoped that the Air-X would cover me through the dirth of November and December but with it pooped out after a month, that ain't gonna work. I am going to increase my PV array this year by 1/3 to help out even more.

    Jay
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    any experiences with MSW inverters and furnaces?

    ralph


    Spend the extra money for a true sine, I tried a MSW on my gas heater. The transformer hummed loud and the circulatory motor ran HOTTER the normal.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    I had a similar awesome day today! Wood fire was out, the sun had the place heated to 80*F, the fridge and freezer were running free on PV and MX-60 had the batteries on float.
    There's no life like it!
    Wayne
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 927 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Is this the same Wayne who spent all last summer under an umbrella?:p

    Glad to hear you're getting some power. The ice left here on the weekend only just cleared the panels and that little bit on the turbine blades...just enough to ruing the aerodynamics. A lilttle sun and a little squeege and i'm back in business.

    ralph
  • paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Wish I could report another sun glory day, but alas the clouds moved in after a clear starry -15 F. night and this morning it is gloomy and snowing again. Still, there has been enough sun of late that I haven't needed to run my generator for over a week now.

    One fundamental beauty of PV is that you KNOW that the sun will eventually come out again no matter what you do. In the long term it is totally reliable, altho not in the short-term.

    Heating water with firewood is an untapped area for many PV users. Since I have started heating water with firewood during the summer months (outdoor stove and carry the water in) I have cut my propane (LP) useage in half or more. (I'll know more when this tank runs out.) It was astounding how much fossil fuel LP I was using to heat water. The only LP I use now is for cooking. For serious baking, however, (bread, pizza, etc.) I fire up a rock-oven with carbon-neutral wood.

    This fall I went on a crash program to build another woodshed and then filled it with lower quality firewood (balsam fir) exclusively for use in my outdoor water heater. I cut the wood into short 5-6" blocks which split absurdly easy. I now have a good 2-3 YEARS supply of water heating firewood plus kindling in this new woodshed.

    Another good thing about firewood is that the whole family can help gather it with useful health-giving outdoor labor.

    Pumping water is another big energy user. For that I use both a gas-engine pump to fill a 100 gallon tank upstairs for sink use. (Once I tried a homemade steam boiler and steam injector to pump groundwater. It worked but was not efficient and I abandoned it).

    For drinking and other needs I use a old fashioned handpump on a sandpoint. Simple and effective with more healthy labor.

    Each task seems to demand multiple systems.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    I too heat with wood and passive solar. Culling, logging slash, beaver falls keep me warm,,,but.

    Before we think that wood heat, or bio-fuels in general consider this: The plant live on the earth, every tree, every wheat stalk, every plankton, all of it, absorbs ~90 Terra Watts of solar energy per year. Sounds like a lot until you consider that we use ~16-19 Terra Watts per year in fossil fuel. (May also include nuclear and geo-thermal, I don't remember) So you would have to burn ~20% of the bio-mass created every year to equal the energy needs of the world.

    On a second note. The idea behind carbon sequestration came up. It was mentioned that coal burning utilities have fought scrubbers for years citing increased cost. Scrubbers are fairly simple and comparativly cheap technology. Carbon sequestration on the other had is very advanced, very expensive technology, that would require every coal fired plant to have the equivilent of a refinery built around them. Do we think that the utilities will want to pay for that.

    In addition, the volume of carbon dioxide produced EVERY year is the cubic equivilent of the volume of Lake Michigan! Even if you could find suitable geology to (safely) accept gas form C02, where are we going to find a Lake Michigan EVERY year, year after year? Aint gonna happen!

    The bottom line is that I don't think there are many (any?) easy solutions for the problems facing us. Those of us who for one reason or another are early adopters are leading the way. The more we can influence out friends and neighbors the better.

    FYI My source was the Director of The Stinson/Bullet Foundation in Seattle, in interview on KUOW NPR Seattle's "The conversation" . I believed it aired ~November 20th. You might be able to search the archives to pod cast it. Very interesting conversation. (The guys name escapes me. It bothers me when people like me spout "facts" without attribution. Sorry

    Icarus
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    Is this the same Wayne who spent all last summer under an umbrella?:p
    ralph
    =======================================
    Haha, Yes, we went for 6 weeks without seeing the sun, that was during late spring early summer. Then August and Sept turned out OK. Hope I never see another sunless spell like that again. LOL
    Peace man :)
  • paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    icarus wrote: »
    I too heat with wood and passive solar. Culling, logging slash, beaver falls keep me warm,,,but.

    Before we think that wood heat, or bio-fuels in general consider this: The plant live on the earth, every tree, every wheat stalk, every plankton, all of it, absorbs ~90 Terra Watts of solar energy per year. Sounds like a lot until you consider that we use ~16-19 Terra Watts per year in fossil fuel. (May also include nuclear and geo-thermal, I don't remember) So you would have to burn ~20% of the bio-mass created every year to equal the energy needs of the world.

    On a second note. The idea behind carbon sequestration came up. It was mentioned that coal burning utilities have fought scrubbers for years citing increased cost. Scrubbers are fairly simple and comparativly cheap technology. Carbon sequestration on the other had is very advanced, very expensive technology, that would require every coal fired plant to have the equivilent of a refinery built around them. Do we think that the utilities will want to pay for that.

    In addition, the volume of carbon dioxide produced EVERY year is the cubic equivilent of the volume of Lake Michigan! Even if you could find suitable geology to (safely) accept gas form C02, where are we going to find a Lake Michigan EVERY year, year after year? Aint gonna happen!

    The bottom line is that I don't think there are many (any?) easy solutions for the problems facing us. Those of us who for one reason or another are early adopters are leading the way. The more we can influence out friends and neighbors the better.

    FYI My source was the Director of The Stinson/Bullet Foundation in Seattle, in interview on KUOW NPR Seattle's "The conversation" . I believed it aired ~November 20th. You might be able to search the archives to pod cast it. Very interesting conversation. (The guys name escapes me. It bothers me when people like me spout "facts" without attribution. Sorry

    Icarus


    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    I'm not saying tha wood fuel (or biomass) will solve the world's problems but it does have a role to play.

    In N. Wis. there are many THOUSANDS of acres of forest that are not utilized for fuel-wood and that could be.

    On the other hand, I visit a firewood forum and am shocked at the heavy equip. guys use to harvest trees that can only damage the land. My ethic is to use very low impact methods getting firewood out while preserving and improving the natural aesthetics and wildlife habitat on my 30 acres.

    But even I have to use fossil-fuel and oil in my chainsaw and in my little tractor and pickup truck. That is why I use a hand operated garden cart and snow sled to move firewood AMAP. Hopefully PV users with home woodlots have respect and a spiritual connection with their land so not to destroy it's natural character in seeking "free" energy.

    I am also attracted to the "carbon neutral" aspect of firewood. My actual fossil fuel useage per year is very very small and I plan to reduce it even further!
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    One thing I have not seen mentioned here is that wood puts out 75 times as much pollution as gas or oil heaters for the same amount of heat...
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    One thing I have not seen mentioned here is that wood puts out 75 times as much pollution as gas or oil heaters for the same amount of heat...

    While that is true at the source of the flue, if you take into account the production of oil and gas it MAYNOT be true. I don't have any stats to back this up, however. I do know that for example the Canadian Tar Sands project produces ~ 10 times as much carbon per gallon of oil then conventional drilling.

    Wood burning is considered "carbon neutral". Most of the pollution issues with wood have to do with localized particulates. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating every one go buy a wood stove,,,,but, a modern woodstove, burned properly (and not burned during thermal inversions!) CAN be a good alternative, especially for rural dwellers.

    The problem we run into in "assessing" the benefits of any technology is seeing and understanding the hidden carbon and pollution. If you plug in your electric (Grid) heater, you get nice clean heat. The consiquences are noticed somewhere else in the form of coal emissions, mining environment destruction, nuclear waste, or what have you.

    The answer is use less over all, and push the envelope of technology so that we get some cost effective alternatives for the mainstream.

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,077 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    This gets into the whole thing about whether CO2 is pollution or not (i.e., man-made global warming)...

    My concern is that pollution is real (air, water, ground). And that focusing on, what may be, something that ends up being defined by politics as pollution (like CO2) will be causing much more harm than good by causing people to do things that are demonstratively not good for the environment...

    One home burning wood from a local wood lot is not a huge problem. New York using wood burning stoves for heat--a big problem. Stopping people from drilling for oil in the US and building refineries to meet capacity requirements and just forcing the production overseas in poorly (if at all) regulated energy production environments. Yet move 1 foot over, and you have Cuban/China/Mexico drilling all over the Gulf of Mexico...

    I prefer to look at "sustainability" instead and using mined resources appropriately (and with recycling when appropriate).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    Windsun wrote: »
    One thing I have not seen mentioned here is that wood puts out 75 times as much pollution as gas or oil heaters for the same amount of heat...

    more info?
    source?

    i run pellet stove and sometimes can run that on my solar powered sine wave inverter in winter if i have enough sun, though i do have a serious shading issue. we also have a very efficient wood burning stove from lopi and are burning the tree that was blown over in a windstorm last summer ;) we're urban by most accounts but have pellet stove, wood and grid connected and offgrid solar.
    one thing i need to figure out is moving the heat around the house better. ideally i should have the pellet stove in the cellar
  • paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Burning wood is not perfect. However, don't these modern EPA approved & catalytic converter stoves produce much cleaner burns?

    I still use an old Fisher woodstove from the 1970s, but I try to burn hot fires whenever possible to achieve "perfect" combustion with very little smoke produced. My bake stoves always run wide open with little visible smoke.

    Compared to the huge impacts of oil drilling and oil transporation and coal mining, etc. I feel that firewood you gather yourself and burn on-site with the best methods is more environmentally friendly than the fossil fuel infrastructure, but again it's not perfect.
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    i did much research before buying my wood stove a couple yrs ago it was one of the best available: 70% efficient without a catalytic converter: achieves re-burn of the smoke through natural convection (a small lopi answer)

    pellet stoves are even better as to particulate emissions but you need power (mostly solar in our case) and theres the unknown cost of producing the pellets which has some carbon cost of course

    i have always heard that woodburning was carbon neutral as well so consider it far better as well, for example ive read a tree rotting in ther forest emits as much carbon dioxide as burning it. BUT particulates are added to the air when burning of course, and thats the main thing to address as i understand it.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Not to argue with Bill, but I think it is beyond question that CO2 emissions are an environmental hazard, either locally or globally. Whether or not you define CO2 as a pollution is a semantic argument.

    Having said that, I am not, (as my citation of bio-fuels a few post below suggest) advocating a great migration to bio-fuels. I think that it is a Hobson's choice. If you look at the btu's provided by corn ethenol, and then look at the btu's required to produce it you will find that we can't "grow our way" out of this mess. On the other hand, for people who are trying to live a low impact lifestyle, who have access to sustainable wood source AND have the capacity to burn as clean as possible, it may make some sense.

    Icarus
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    icarus wrote: »
    ...but I think it is beyond question that CO2 emissions are an environmental hazard, either locally or globally.
    Icarus

    Not to argue with you, what brought the earth out of each of the previous ice ages? Is the Earth covered with ice the preferred state, if not, what is the desired ice coverage percentage? What year was the coverage the correct amount? If we manage to restore ice coverage to the government approved percentage, and then it is subsequently exceeded, then what do we do? Where does the sun fit into the current weather patterns? Just curious to hear your answers on these questions.

    Respectfully,

    Bad Apple
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    I'm not going to get into a long debate on whether or not global warming is real. Yes, the earth has been colder in it's history, as well as warmer. The question is not whether there is an optimum temp, but whether or not there is SIGNIFICANT human caused climate change or not. My opinion, and that shared by the vast majority of the learned scientific community is that indeed humans have had SIGNIFICANT effect on climate change and the pace is increasing.

    The difference between now and the ice and warming events of epochs past is the RATE of climate change. Nature is very resilient and will win in the grand scheme of things. In epochs past, plants and animals lived, died and adapted to the slowly changing climate,,or they died! The problem is that plants and animals may not be able to adjust to the change fast enough to survive as a species. Polar bears for example cannot live without long periods of sea ice. For example, trees migrate with climate over many hundreds or thousands of years. They can't move fast enough to survive the speed in which we have induced climate change.

    The naysayers like to say that you cannot point to any given event and attribute it to climate change, say Hurricane Katrina. The fact is the change is everywhere we dare look, from the shorter sea ice season of Hudson's Bay Polar Bears, to the receding glaciers almost everywhere in the world, to decreased snow pack in the Coast Mountains, greater flood and drought events and on and on. I may not be too smart, but even I, with some information can put 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 together and get 8!

    The consiquences of doing nothing now can be catastrophic. We may not care about polar bears, but we should care about our children and grandchildren.

    In the end, nature will win, and the planet will still be here. I think it is arrogant to assume that humans will be the ones to survive however.

    Icarus

    PS I really don't want this to degrade into a long discussion on the subject. I think there are other forums that are more appropriate.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    icarus wrote: »
    PS I really don't want this to degrade into a long discussion on the subject.QUOTE]

    Since you brought it up, I simply wanted to get your answers to a few questions regarding "global warming". No problem if you don't want to answer them.

    Regards,

    Bad Apple
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Pose any question you wish. If I don't want to answer, I'll tell you so.

    Fire away,

    Tony
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    OK guys back to the OP's topic.

    As a Professional Forester I am in a quandry.

    We have an isolated cabin in the inner rain shadow side of the Coast mountain range of BC. (Canada). I burn wood, and this year we burnt a lot of old punky dead fall from the Mountain Pine Beettle attack of the 80"s and 90's. From a (stove) fire wood perspective some was still great, some poor but it burnt as it was good and dry. Cleaned up a lot of 'debris' that was in the way of footings for a new guest house.

    In my clean up zeal I got to skidding in some of the debris that was on other parts of the 3 acres of wooded timberland we have... there is still a massive amount to do...

    Couunterpoint:
    that 'debris' is called "coarse woody debris" (CWD) in this neck of the woods and is, on Crown owned land, managed after logging take place and as a Professional Forester I would be required to prescribe the amount to be retained per acre and also whether it is D&D ( dead and down) or standing in the form of old 'snags' which can be used by cavity nesting birds, etc... there are a miriade of creatures that use CWD that are impacted by human actions to stay warm..... felines, fur bearers as well as small rodents, sadly the pack rat is one of them...

    So as one can see the 'free' wood, there for the taking, can have unseen impacts to the overal health of our 'total' enviroment...

    The choice is what do we as humans want to impact and how.

    Just thought you all might like to know a different point of view.

    Please excuse the rant I just had to get it off my chest...

    Cheers
    Eric
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Eric,

    Couldn't have said it better. A nice clean yard (wood lot or what have you) is a nearly dead space. Nature is everywhere, every rotten log feeds critters that feed critters that feed critter.

    The answer is keep our footprints as small as possible

    Icarus
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Allow me to wade into the low lying peat bog......with my newly grinded axe, inverter and epinions!

    Firstly, I must agree with my learned friend Eric. Not because he is a fellow canadian but because a tree that is merely "down or decaying" ...doesn't mean its outlived its usefulness.
    A dead and decaying tree has lots to offer the biosphere and is still actually playing a valuable a role in the natural order of things!
    If we humans are actually considering saving planet/consuming less ......then how about having less kids?
    Uncontrolled population growth WILL BE the death KNELL of this planet.....and quicker than you can say Madison Avenue?. Or Dow Jones Average? Or polluted water supply? can you spell Walkerton? If we don't control the number of SUV MTV PVC or PC loving humans on this planet ....then how can we all eat, sleep and breath?
    Did you know? that if we put all the cars on the planet end to end the column would stretch around the equator 60 times!
    hey ,that would be a sight for NASA...never mind the great wall of China!

    When will we be able to say 'Well, yes the economy and jobs are (great for my kids!) but consuming less and saving the planet might benefit others?". Oops, I know that won't get us elected.
    I hate it..... Diesel powered trucks driving around with dead Xmas trees on them... like deer or bear carcasses tied on the back of a hunters truck! Oh, well... don't forget to recycle?
    kevin
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    I've got none, (kids) my wife has two. (Neither of them are gonna have any)

    This would be a really cool world if we had 1/20th the population with the technology we have. I'm not anti children, but not to many.

    T
  • lamplightlamplight Solar Expert Posts: 368 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    so....... nice to see our governments FUD tactics have worked so well..

    back to CO2 and wood, anyone have any info on what i was talking about (from a purely Co2 point , obviously the rotting tree has use and we dont want to even be alive to be the most green..) . im wondering if what ive read about a tree rotting vs burning it really is CO2 neutral, or close.

    i have been enjoying the pellet stove and heating exclusively with it so far this yr, i have not had enough sun to run it on the offgrid solar but i am setup for it just by changing plugs
  • paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?
    westbranch wrote: »
    OK guys back to the OP's topic.

    As a Professional Forester I am in a quandry.

    We have an isolated cabin in the inner rain shadow side of the Coast mountain range of BC. (Canada). I burn wood, and this year we burnt a lot of old punky dead fall from the Mountain Pine Beettle attack of the 80"s and 90's. From a (stove) fire wood perspective some was still great, some poor but it burnt as it was good and dry. Cleaned up a lot of 'debris' that was in the way of footings for a new guest house.

    In my clean up zeal I got to skidding in some of the debris that was on other parts of the 3 acres of wooded timberland we have... there is still a massive amount to do...

    Couunterpoint:
    that 'debris' is called "coarse woody debris" (CWD) in this neck of the woods and is, on Crown owned land, managed after logging take place and as a Professional Forester I would be required to prescribe the amount to be retained per acre and also whether it is D&D ( dead and down) or standing in the form of old 'snags' which can be used by cavity nesting birds, etc... there are a miriade of creatures that use CWD that are impacted by human actions to stay warm..... felines, fur bearers as well as small rodents, sadly the pack rat is one of them...

    So as one can see the 'free' wood, there for the taking, can have unseen impacts to the overal health of our 'total' enviroment...

    The choice is what do we as humans want to impact and how.

    Just thought you all might like to know a different point of view.

    Please excuse the rant I just had to get it off my chest...

    Cheers
    Eric

    I am in a similar quandry, but upon studying the ecological history of my land it may be less of a problem than I thought.

    Yes, one should leave snags and den trees in the forest plus woody debris for habitat and I always do that. Doing that job well calls for judgement and experience.

    For example, in my woods some dead trees like jack pine stand for many years or decades as snags, while others like red pine or balsam quickly rot and fall down in a season or two. Thus I am more likely to leave jack pines alone if I think they will develop into good snags and will harest more of the ones that quickly rot and will fall down into a jumble on the forest floor.

    That said, I also leave some woody debris in places because that is valuable habitat and also regenerates the soil.

    However, one has to also investigate the fire history of ones area to see what the "natural" way was. Most woods burned more often than we allow them to burn now and because of that fires were more frequent but they were not as hot because they tended to consume a lot of dead woody ground debris. More frequent groundfires did tend to clean the woods up more than they are now. So in a sense, although imperfectly, "cleaning up" the woods by harvesting dead and fallen timber does somewhat replicate this historic greater frequency of ground fires that humans no longer permit.

    With 30 acres I am able to move around my land and harvest a little here and a little there and not impact any single area too much. At least I try and by the number of rare, threatened, and endangered species here I'm hoping for the best.

    Believe it or not, in my woods a far greater danger than fire, or overharvesting, or global warming are the DEER. These over-pampered and over-protected eaters are totally wiping out all seedlings and small pine and balsam fir and cedar trees as if a giant vacuum cleaner had gone through the forest.

    Yet if I shoot one of those forest destroyers out of season it's a $2000 fine!

    In my area, deer are a MUCH greater impact on the environment than anything else, and yet this problem is rarely mentioned. They are also wiping out ground nesting birds.

    DNR game and forest management still has a long ways to go...
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,077 admin
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    Yea, when the ice age again descends on California sometime between now and 10,000 years from now--these lands will again become a biological desert (as they have every ~10-20,000 years for at least 10-12 times before).

    It is really difficult to talk about the long term impact of anything once you start talking about tens of thousands (let along millions) of years.

    So as not to get political here (per our host's request), here is a link from US senator Inhofe's office.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • paulstamserpaulstamser Solar Expert Posts: 86 ✭✭✭
    Re: Photovoltaics & Firewood: An Ideal Combination?

    I feel that global warming (or cooling) is a related topic as trees are carbon sinks and burning wood vs. fossil fuels affects the world's carbon balance. While I am not a total believer in g.w. I like to toss out my (almost) "carbon neutral" lifestyle as it is trendy and gets you instant acceptance and approval among true believers.
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