In view of rising energy prices, more and more French people are investing in boilers or pellet stoves. But the offer is difficult to follow. Experts, fearful of an impending pellet shortage, are urging consumers not to buy more than they need to.
In ten years, the number of boilers and pellet stoves in private households has increased tenfold. But the supply is difficult: Wood pellets could run out this winter.
In 2021, 1.5 million households were equipped to burn wood pellets. That year sales of stoves (200,000) increased by 50% and boilers (31,000) by 120%. Spectacular growth, much too fast, according to the manufacturers. “In 2-3 years the installation of furnaces and boilers was very important, we were too fast compared to our production capacity.” explains Sonia Dupuis, manager at Normandie Éco-combustible.
Added to this is the stop on Russian imports. French pellet production is not sufficient to meet the country’s needs. Last year, France consumed 2.4 million tons of pellets, of which 400,000 tons were imported. With the war in Ukraine, deliveries from Russia or Belarus stopped. European supply should therefore be reduced by 10%, even if demand continues to rise.
The strong demand and the supply difficulties naturally affect the prices. The palette can be purchased today for €540 versus €270 previously. In a year, prices have therefore doubled and experts estimate that they could rise by up to 70% by the end of the year.
The concern is great, especially when the winter is cold. But this widespread fear of an impending shortage has caused a rush to stockpile for the past few weeks. “People are panicking, they are buying in droves and sooner and later“says Sonia Dupuis. The best way to create bottlenecks.
Dealers are therefore asking the French not to buy more than necessary for heating this winter. “We hunt customers who buy unusually” explains Sonia Dupuis, “They are only sold the equivalent of what they need. We know their uses: if they ask for five pallets instead of three, we only supply them with three.” In fact, retailers like Normandie Éco-combustible are already struggling to replenish their stocks for the high season, which begins in October.
Consumers are also being called upon to become energy sober. By switching to pellets Households tend to heat more because of fuel is cheaper and less polluting. but Reducing the temperature by 2°C uses 14% less fuel.
The industry is preparing itself. New factories are to be opened and the production capacities of existing ones increased. Another million tons of pellets are planned to be produced between 2021 and 2024, and the total production capacity is expected to double by 2028.