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Wood Burning and Data

Given the rising costs in fossil fuels, and subsequent rising heating costs, many Americans are looking for alternatives to contemporary heating options.

Among other means of heating, traditional wood-burning has surged, especially in areas which are anticipating cold and extreme winters like the northeast United States. Wood pellets are being used, instead of logs, due to the lessened impact on the environment, and also the reduction in toxic emissions. The wood pellets also burn better and stronger, resulting in stronger, longer fires, which also contributes to the efficiency. It has to be kept in mind though that while technically a renewable energy, wood should not be considered a viable long-term energy source.

Individual/consumer installation of solar photovoltaic power cells has been on the rise, and yet has been largely unreported due to a fundamental flaw in the pre-2010 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data collection surveys. The old surveys only asked information from utility-scale solar operations, and ignored the individual solar installations on homes and smaller buildings.

However, in 2010 the electric utilities began reporting the capacity of their customers’ “behind-the-meter” generation, which is larger than utility-scale capacity.

The data collected from those 2010 surveys has just been released, showing the rise in solar panels. While it is somewhat humorous the omission of individual solar cell installation, it is also concerning because the pre-2010 EIA data which was released to the public and the government was flawed. Perhaps if the true amount would have been known, energy policy would be different.

Whether it is burning wood for heat instead of using power from fossil fuels or individual-based solar panel installation, both are dependent on government policy. Wood burning is dependent on a policy which lessens the cost of energy, while solar panels installed on homes is dependent on a policy which supports the installation, and also makes it easier and cheaper.

Fortunately, since cheaper energy is the concern of both, it can easily be addressed through the proper energy policy.

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