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Faced with soaring energy prices, more and more French are investing in boilers or pellet stoves. But the supply is struggling to follow. Professionals, who are worried about a risk of shortage of pellets, call on consumers not to buy more than necessary.

In ten years, the number of boilers and pellet stoves in private homes in France has multiplied by ten. But supply is struggling to keep up: wood pellets could well run out this winter.

In 2021, 1.5 million households were equipped to burn wood pellets. That year, sales jumped 50% for stoves (200,000) and 120% for boilers (31,000). Spectacular growth, far too fast, according to the manufacturers. ” In 2-3 years, the installation of stoves and boilers was very important, we were too fast compared to our production capacity” explains Sonia Dupuis, manager at  Normandie Éco-combustible.

Prices have doubled

Added to this is the cessation of Russian imports. French production of pellets is not enough to cover the country’s needs. Last year, France consumed 2.4 million tonnes of pellets, including 400,000 tonnes imported. With the war in Ukraine, deliveries from Russia or Belarus ceased. European supplies are now reduced by 10%, even as demand continues to soar.

The strong demand and supply difficulties obviously have an impact on prices. A tonne of pellets can be bought today at 540€ against 270€ last year. In one year, prices have therefore doubled, and professionals estimate that they could increase by up to 70% by the end of the year.

Avoid over-stocks of heating pellets

The concern is great, especially if the winter is cold. But this widespread fear of a looming shortage has been causing a rush to stock up for several weeks. “People are panicking, they are buying in huge amounts, ” says Sonia Dupuis. The best way to create scarcity.

Distributors therefore call on the French not to buy more than necessary for heating this winter. “We hunt down customers who buy abnormally ” explains Sonia Dupuis, ” we only sell them the equivalent of what they need. We know their habits: if they ask for five pallets, instead of three, we provide only three. “Indeed, distributors, such as Normandie Éco-combustible, are already having great difficulty in replenishing their stocks for the high season, which starts in October.

Consumers are also called to energy sobriety. By switching to pellets, households tend to heat more because the fuel is cheaper and less polluting. But reducing the temperature by 2°C makes it possible to use 14% less fuel.

For its part, the sector is preparing. New factories are to open and the production capacities of existing ones will increase. An additional one million tonnes of pellets are expected to be produced between 2021 and 2024, and total production capacity in France is expected to double by 2028.

The post Wood pellet crisis in France: prices double, strong demand causes supply difficulties appeared first on Global Wood Markets Info.

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