“Do not install” wood heating “before being guaranteed by a distributor who will be able to supply you”, alert on franceinfo on Sunday 4 September Frédéric Plan, general delegate of France Combustibles. The 7 million French who have decided to heat themselves with pellet stoves or boilers are facing a sharp increase in raw material. Strong demand and a lack of resources in France explain the rise in prices in particular. Even if he “sees no improvement for several long months or even next year”Frédéric Plan does not think “that there really is a shortage to fear” this winter. On the other hand, distributors could deliver “in priority” those whose wood is the “only means of heating”.
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Federico Plan: First of all we must say that we are in a very particular, unexpected situation, due to two essential reasons. First of all, great enthusiasm for the installation of pellet stoves in particular, several hundreds of thousands of units per year and this for several years. Inevitably, it weighs on the resource. This French resource is insufficient to cover the demand. Mechanically, prices rise. But also for other reasons. Because sawdust is more expensive and because gas is needed to dry the pellets, which has become very, very expensive for companies. Furthermore, imports are failing because several countries, especially Europeans, find themselves in the same situation and anticipate everything that is available on the market.
How long will it last?
We don’t really have visibility. We think about them [les prix] it will continue to rise slightly, then stabilize. However, it remains an overall energy that remains interesting, despite its doubling. The VAT is only 10%, unlike other heating energies. Obviously there is a surprise for the consumer and also a surprise for the distribution networks. It wasn’t expected and we don’t see any improvement for several long months, and not even next year. The advice we give to individuals, to consumers who want to approach this heating mode, is “do not install appliances before they have been guaranteed by a distributor who will be able to supply you”. That’s the rule!
The 60 million consumer association aims for price increases that are not always justified. Are there super profits in your industry?
It is a market that, unlike gas, oil and electricity, has no prices. There is no visibility on what the price should be based on a listed market. It is more difficult for the distributor to obtain supplies at the right price and for the consumer accordingly. Procurement campaigns are planned from year to year. We will find ourselves at the beginning of 2023 with the need as a distributor to cover the needs for the following winter. What price should supply contracts be based on? It will be a question of absolute uncertainty due to the absence of transparency, in the sense of the absence of a quotation that enhances the markets, raw materials and energy.
Is there a risk of rationing so that there are no supply disruptions this winter?
First of all, don’t despair completely. Importing is certainly a difficult recourse for the moment. Maybe there will be some good surprises on that side by the end of the year? But we don’t know. There is a real fog. Obviously, this will have an impact on price stabilization. There is no strategic storage space stored somewhere. Which means we are close to just-in-time. I don’t think there is really a shortage to fear because, in case the products are not enough to cover all the requests, it will be necessary to select. There are a number of consumers who have turned on the stove because their electric bill is too high, but they still have electric heating. Ultimately the pellet is not necessarily essential. Whoever turned on the boilers, on the other hand, must be served first. It is their only means of heating.