Forests and Renewable Energy: Towards a Cleaner Planet

Population growth and energy demand will continue to rise year after year, necessitating more land and energy resources. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has claimed many lives around the world, the total human population will continue to rise year after year until it is estimated to reach 9.7 billion in 2050. This increase in population not only consumes more energy, but also generates waste on land and at sea. Furthermore, the dense population will narrow the land. In recent years, rice fields that were once planted with green rice have been converted into housing lots. Green fields have also been destroyed.

Forests and energy storage

According to the CIFOR-ICRAF lead scientist, after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the total area deforested across the global tropics will have doubled compared to the previous year’s value. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO2022 )’s Status of World Forests Report, 420 million hectares, or about 10.34 percent of the world’s total forest area, have been lost over the last 30 years. According to FAO data from 2020, which was summarized in the 2022 Status of World Forests (SOFO) report, the world lost 420 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2020. Even the world’s largest tropical rainforest (Brazil’s Amazon) has lost 3,750 square kilometers this year.

The forest is a complex ecosystem rich in biomass and energy storage. Not only seen as a source of energy, but also as a means of mitigating climate change through energy absorption, Globally, forests provide about 10 times more energy than the world’s main energy consumption annually. Many fail to realize that among the many benefits of forests, the most essential is as a provider of clean and renewable energy for life on earth. This renewable energy will never be used up and can be replenished by natural processes in a short period of time compared with human life. Water, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and ocean waves are types of renewable energy, most of which are directly linked to forests’ existence and sustainability. Forests are rich in natural resources and can provide nearly all the energy that humans need. The Forest vegetation cover, which is dominated by trees, plays a role in maintaining energy sustainability, retaining and maintaining groundwater quality, preventing global warming while stabilizing temperatures, providing stocks of geothermal resources, water, and biomass, and also producing the oxygen we breathe to survive.

Renewables Energy: Is its primary or secondary?

The understanding currently circulating is that renewable energy is still positioned as an alternative to oil and coal, on the pretext that if one day fossil energy runs out, a transition to renewable energy can be made. Actually, fossil energy and renewable energy are two primary energies for human life. Fossil energy has some capacity to use because it is believed that it will run out if used continuously. In the meantime, renewables will never be exhausted. However, maximum renewable energy will not be achieved if nature has been damaged, particularly forests that store a lot of renewable energy. In addition, the energy use of fossil fuels can pose a threat to the environment, but not to renewable energy.

However, it is also impossible to completely abandon fossil energy use because renewable energy is not as strong as fossil energy. Although both come from nature, for example, renewable energy requires large investments and capital, is very dependent on weather and sunlight, and requires batteries or similar energy storage so that it can still be used.

Renewable energy in Norwegian

Recent data show that Norway has the most renewable energy in the world. No less than 98 percent of total Norwegian energy consumption comes from renewable sources. Norway uses more hydropower than any other country in the world because it has many valleys and rivers, coupled with increasing rainfall due to the climate, making this country have a lot of water to make electricity. Obviously, much of the water is stored in rivers and valleys that have good forests. Norway has a great deal of experience with renewables. After Norway, Brazil and New Zealand follow Norway with respect to renewables. Consequently, there is little or no news about oil and gas shortages in the named countries.

Forests and sustainable energy in Indonesia

Indonesia is home to at least eight renewable energy sources: biofuels, biomass, geothermal, water, wind, sun, ocean waves and tides. Based on the National Energy Policy (KEN), the target for the renewable energy mix in the supply of primary energy is 23% in 2025 by optimizing the utilization of new and renewable energy and minimizing the use of petroleum to less than 25%. This renewable energy source can be found in abundance in Indonesia’s forests, which cover 10% of the world’s tropical rainforests and are one of the main sources of human energy by providing water and natural sedimentation processes. Indonesian forests also supply an abundance of biomass energy.

Because renewable energy needs a lot of money and adequate technology, the Indonesian government is working with non-governmental organizations such as the IEA (International Energy Agency) to develop renewable energy. The Government of Indonesia is also working with countries that have successfully managed, renewable energy, such as Norway, Germany and Singapore. Likewise, during the G20 in Indonesia, the energy transition became a top priority for Indonesia and the G20 countries. However, while Indonesia has great potential for energy transition, it is currently the fourth-largest coal-intensive electricity producer in the G20.

Indonesia has large forests, but the fact is that forestland is widely used to support the economic sector and population growth. Professor at IPB Bogor’s School of Forestry and Environment, Prof Muhammad Buce Saleh, revealed that there was a decrease in Indonesia’s forest cover during 1990–2020 that will increase by 20% in 2025. It is clear that this condition of decline will negatively affect future generations of energy sources. Although Indonesia’s forests have great potential for renewable energy in the future, it also depends on how they are managed.

Syarifah Huswatun Miswar
Syarifah Huswatun Miswar
Syarifah Huswatun Miswar (孙美琳) from Indonesia. She received a Master of Law in International Relations from the School of International and Public Affairs, Jilin University, China. She is a research analyst with an emphasis on Environmental in International Relations issues. Now she is doing her doctoral degree in Central China Normal University (CCNU) in International Relations.