Yes to wind power, but no plundering the jungle

It is essential to switch to renewable energy sources such as wind energy. However, a more efficient way to reduce your environmental impact is by consuming less energy and raw materials.

Wind turbines are essential for the transition to cleaner energy sources. They have large rotor blades that require a lot of balsa wood, sourced from the forests of Ecuador. Unfortunately, that means more trees are being felled by the turbines.

In recent years, demand for wind energy has experienced unprecedented growth in China, Europe and North America. Consequently, the extraction of balsa wood in Ecuador has also increased considerably, with almost 90% of the world’s supply coming from this Latin American country.

O wood demand Rafting has led loggers and traders to venture into the forests, even in regions where they should not be, such as indigenous territories and state conservation units. This has caused significant social unrest.

The consequences of extracting balsa wood are disastrous for nature. This tree is essential to the ecosystem, playing a role in controlling bank erosion. If cut, the environment can be drastically affected.

wind energy, biodiversity, deforestation, wood, renewable energy

Siemens Gamesa holds the record for using balsa wood, having used 26,000 tons (about 170,000 m³) in 2021. This Spanish-German company uses these balsa wood to support its wind farms.

Siemens Gamesa’s offshore wind turbines are equipped with 81m long rotor blades that contain a large amount of balsat, totaling around 40m3 and 6 tonnes in total. Approximately 40 trees can be saved if the wood is bonded to materials such as PET, PVC, fiberglass or epoxy resin.

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Nordex and Vestas are among the other notable wind turbine manufacturers that use balsa, albeit on a much smaller scale. Specifically, Nordex used around 9,000 m³ in 2021, while Vestas used 2,500 m³.

LM Wind Power, a subsidiary of the American multinational General Electric, uses balsa wood in 5% of its turbine rotors. Salva la Selva/Rettet den Regenwald has sent questions to this company and to Enercon, based in Germany, but has yet to receive any response.

The companies rely on balsa wood, which is supplied by the Swiss 3A Composites Group, the only balsa supplier with FSC certification in the world. Although 3A Composites produces most of the balsa wood, global consumption of this material by the wind industry is incredibly high. This is especially highlighted by Siemens Gamesa’s usage numbers, which are impressive.

Transparency and verifiability must be Balsa’s top priorities when it comes to its supply chain management practices.

Petition

“The wind energy industry must disclose its supply chains for balsa wood, which must not come from clear-cutting rainforests”

READ THE LETTER

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