by Griffin Merians
Picture yourself walking through a forest, surrounded by green foliage, the gentle creak of swaying trees, and… energy? Forest and biomass energy are key sources of renewable energy, however, according to an article published in the journal, BioResources, not all nations are equally blessed in this regard. The study used a cluster analysis approach to divide 27 countries into 9 “clusters” based on factors such as forest cover, annual wood production, the amount of energy consumed, greenhouse gas emissions, energy dependence, and expenditure on research and development.
The results of the study were very interesting and comprehensive (for a the full article visit http://www.bioresourcesjournal.com/), but clusters of particular interest were 1, 7, 9, as well as Germany and France, which were each found to be their own separate cluster. Cluster 1 included Austria, Portugal, Sweden, and Finland, and was the leader in renewable energy usage, and near the top of the pack in forest coverage and research and development. Cluster 7 included the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom, and was notable for its low share of renewable energy usage, as well as its very low levels of energy dependence. Cluster 9 included Italy and Spain which are cumulatively the largest producers of greenhouses gases with high energy dependence. Germany was found to be the leader in the consumption of wood and production of biomass energy, but below average in the overall proportional use of renewable energy. France was a somewhat distant second in the production of energy from biomass, at 37% less energy production than Germany.
While many of the results might have been reached intuitively, using the cluster analysis approach will help provide a mathematical framework that will be invaluable for an overarching EU energy deals. This framework can be used to guide the development of equitable policies that will benefit both the members of the EU and our planet as renewable energy usage is increased. Forests will continue to play a key role in addressing our planet’s energy demands, as well as key places of natural beauty.
Palus, Hubert; Kalamarova, Martina; Loucanova, Erika; Supin, Mikulas. Energy Utilization of
Renewable Resources in the European Union – Cluster Analysis Approach BioResources 11(1): 984-995. North Carolina State University 2016