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“Irrational”, “panic”: the sale of wood pellets overheating, prices are soaring

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“Irrational”, “panic”: the sale of wood pellets overheating, prices are soaring
Written by madishthestylebar

At Bois Rosa, a company distributing firewood and pellets located about twenty kilometers from Lyon, the incessant ballet of cars, trunks open to collect precious combustible pellets, prompted the manager to limit direct sales. “When customers come from afar, we go up to 15 bags”, specifies the boss, Stéphane Rosa, who makes “99% of (his) sales” with individuals. Its order book is full, with three months of delivery time, against the usual two to three weeks.

“Panic” caused by the war

The trend is general, some suppliers no longer answer the phone. A pre-recorded message asks “to send (a) request in writing” via a form accessible online. The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is however the first region producing logs in France, a mode of heating in full expansion. “It was the panic caused by the war in Ukraine that scared all energies,” explains Eric Vial, general delegate of Propellet, the national association for wood pellet heating – “pellet” in English.

Current demand, two to six times higher than in 2021, is according to him “inadequate with the need”, while consumption should only have increased by 12 to 13% this year according to Propellet’s projections. “It’s irrational: people have to think and not panic”, continues the general delegate, denouncing an “overbuying” motivated by “the fear of missing out”. At the same time, with the combined increase in fuel, electricity and the plastic used to wrap pallets of pellets, prices have doubled. A 15 kilo bag now sells for around ten euros.

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP

Pellet stoves or boilers

Despite the “overheating of the market”, the general delegate of Propellet wants to be reassuring: “If consumers stop rushing on pellets and only buy the bare minimum, they will lower demand and naturally the price will drop. In the meantime, we have to deal with the restrictions. Stéphane Chicot uses “one to two tons” of pellets for heating each winter. And for him, being content with “10 bags is a bit of a joke”. Pierre Liotard, 66, came to Bois Rosa to pick up some bags for his daughter living in Burgundy, where according to him, the pellets are “not found” while “the cold is coming”.

On the same subject

Energy: why the price of wood pellets is soaring

Energy: why the price of wood pellets is soaring

Times are tough for owners of wood-burning stoves and boilers. Prices have almost tripled and the shelves are empty. Explanations with the company Durepaire, which manufactures the precious fuel in Verdille, in Charente

According to Propellet, in 2021, 1.5 million French households were equipped with pellet stoves or boilers. A few centimeters long, these small cylinders of compressed softwood sawdust are considered renewable energy by the European Union, despite opposition from environmentalists. Sales of pellet appliances, stoves and boilers increased by 43.2% and 119.6% respectively in France last year according to the Observatory of Renewable Energies – an increase boosted by various purchase subsidies that can go up to several thousand euros.

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP

Online scams are on the rise

Stoves, intended mainly for auxiliary heating, represent more than 90% of pellet appliances, boilers, which are larger and connected to the hot water network, are rarer. If domestic production makes it possible to cover “about 85% of needs” with French wood, the increase in demand forces the branch to import “at exorbitant prices”, mainly from Belgium, according to the representative of Propellet. Like other distributors, Stéphane Rosa is reluctant to import his pellets.

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