Wood pellets (also called “pellets”) face the risk of shortage. Many consumers of this stove fuel have seen stocks dwindle and prices rise. Explanations.
For many users of wood pellet stoves, the weather is dreading a difficult winter. As shown in various reports from La Dépêche du Midi, many have faced a lack of stocks or very high prices for “pellets” (the English term for wood pellets) recently weeks. Can we talk about a disability? What do we have to fear from here until winter? La Dépêche took the stock.
Can we talk about a disability?
“We are not yet in a situation of shortage”, assured us Propellet, the National Association of Professionals in Heating with Wood Pellets. “We are in a dangerous situation of tension”.
How can these “tensions” be explained?
This year, customers are asking for wood pellets even earlier, before the start of production in 2022. “So we are selling stocks, there are no pellets that have just been made”. In fact, most of the time, the request is too late. “People are preparing for winter with a crazy improvement compared to previous years”, explained the professional. “By the time the sector finds its feet and increases production capacity, there will be a short lag time. Supply is limited compared to demand.”
TESTIMONIALS. Lack of firewood: these Toulouse people are already looking for logs and pellets
Second reason: new consumers come to the market every year. “The subsidized installations of stoves and boilers are developing faster than the national capacity to produce the necessary fuels”, confirms its part in the French Federation of Fuels, Fuels & Heating. Result: some stores were forced to limit sales as stocks began to dwindle. And some brands are out of stock, as confirmed by a Weldom store in Fleurance, in the Gers: “We do not see the quantity, the date and the prices, regrets the management, asked by La Dépêche . We have a Big demand at the moment. If this shipment doesn’t come, it’s a store shortage.”
“The pellet is madness”: the lack of wood pellets for heating has reached the Gers
How long do they last?
“If we are in time, it is normal to have shocks. But the situation should be smooth in the coming months”. However, according to the Federation, in the winter of 2022-2023, compared to the national production capacity, the supply shortfall should be between -5 and -15% in terms of volume. “This sequence is linked to the weather: everything depends on whether the winter is too cold or too mild”. The only solution then is to resort to imports. “But it is prevented because many other countries, where the situation is the same, also want pellets and wood pellets”.
“The sector is increasing and developing, and opening new production sites”, assures Propellet. This provides an additional 1 million tons spread between 2021 and 2024 and a doubling of production capacity by 2028.
Have prices gone up?
Currently, the price increase is tangible: if we look at the current market, the price per ton has doubled compared to 2021. “This is the law of supply and demand”, explained Propellet. “However, it maintains itself at a much lower level than other energies.”
Tarn: a Gaillacoise rebel against the price explosion of wood pellets
This price increase can also be explained by the increase in energy costs. “It does not directly affect the pellet, but transport, storage etc. Unfortunately, the entire production and distribution chain is affected”.
Are many French people worried?
Between 2020 and 2021, pellet stove sales increased by 41% and pellet boiler sales by 120%, with 180,000 and 32,000 pieces respectively. In addition, the non-renewal of oil-fired appliances from July 1 will continue to promote the development of appliances and especially pellet boilers that act like oil-fired boilers because they provide hot water at home.
“This heating method is appreciated by consumers and by public authorities who have put in a lot of help to encourage consumers to convert to it”.
What recommendations for consumers?
Propellet calls on customers to be careful and act responsibly to avoid shortages. “It is advisable to wait. Especially since, unless tragedy occurs, the tension in prices should calm down”, says the French Federation of Combustibles, Fuels & Heating.
Another recommendation: “Due to the current conditions, if there is a project to install a stove or boiler, we advise consumers to make sure that a supplier can provide them.”