Pellets and firewood: scarce this winter?

Wood energy traders are urging the French not to buy more than they need for heating this winter.

Faced with rising energy prices, more and more French people are investing in boilers or wood and pellet stoves. But some pros worry they won’t be able to meet fuel needs for this winter.

Stéphane Demilly, Senator of the Somme, expressed his concerns in a written question to Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister for Energy Transition.

“Thanks to environmental support, our fellow citizens continue to have stoves and boilers installed, while it is not certain whether they will be able to buy wood pellets at inflated prices or even have enough fuel to meet the needs of winter 2022,” he stressed.

“Today there is a bubble in demand for pellets,” laments Eric Vial, General Delegate of Propellet, the national association of wood pellet heating professionals.

Avoid overstocking

“There is a small flaw,” he admits. A hole in the bat partly linked to the war in Ukraine as Europe imported 3 million tons of pellets from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine last year.

French pellet production does not cover the country’s needs. The rest is imported from abroad. However, the price increase and the confiscation of large quantities of pellets by big players such as power plant operators make importing more complicated.

To avoid shortages, traders hunt down customers who order more firewood than usual for the winter. As is so often the case when bottlenecks threaten, the French rush to stock up on supplies.

And “to prevent those who would be tempted to stock more than necessary by sourcing from multiple manufacturing facilities, distributors are no longer accepting new customers,” says Eric Vial.

In a sign the panic is gaining ground, Brazeco, a distributor of wood energy (wood pellets and logs), saw orders rise 30% from a year earlier, which was already posting double-digit growth.

“Even in the off-season and despite significantly higher prices for wood energy, demand is not decreasing,” the company states.

“We are victims of our success”

Energy wood producers have been in increasing demand for several years. In 2021, sales of pellet stoves increased by 50% and boilers by 120%. Strong growth, partly linked to post-Covid recovery but had been expected by professionals. This year, Propellet expects sales to increase by 25-30% for stoves and 50% for boilers.

In addition, some municipalities that used pellets to supplement town gas are now using them 100% given rising energy prices.

“We’re running out of breath. We are victims of our success,” acknowledges Etic Vial. Several problems arose. On the one hand, the shortage of semiconductors and rising raw material prices are slowing down device manufacture. Also, companies lack the guns to install them in homes.

Deadlines have exploded

“The deadlines have really exploded. With a few exceptions, we have to wait until December or even next year. Added to this is the tension surrounding pellets, which is pushing some to postpone their investment or turn to heat pumps,” details the Propellet General Delegate.

The industry was still prepared for the explosion in demand. Thanks to the opening of new factories and the increase in production capacity of existing factories, the sector envisages the arrival of one million tons of additional pellets between 2021 and 2024 and a doubling of production capacity from 2028.

“There is a legitimate concern, but we must remain calm. As long as everyone doesn’t buy more than necessary, everything is fine. It is true that there is a small deficiency that we must take into account, but it is a big one.” to be made up for by imports and by a sober use of energy,” assures Eric Vial, adding that heating with a less polluting fuel is not The reason is to increase his heating by a few degrees.

Kaddouri Ismail

I am Ismail from Morocco, I work as a blogger and online marketer. I am also the founder of the “Mofid” site, in which I constantly publish many important articles in the field of technology, taking advantage of more than 5 years of experience working in the field. I focus on publishing in a group of areas, the most important of which are programming, e-marketing, digital currencies and freelance work.

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