Wood pellets (also called “pellets”) run the risk of shortage. Many consumers of this stove fuel have seen stocks melt and prices skyrocket. Explanations.
For the many users of wood pellet stoves, the period fears a difficult winter. As various reports from La Dépêche du Midi have shown, in recent weeks many have faced a shortage of stocks or very high prices for “pellets” (the English term for wood pellets). Can we speak of a deficiency? What should we fear from here to winter? La Dépêche takes stock.
Can we speak of a deficiency?
“We are not yet in a situation of shortage”, assures us Propellet, the National Association of Wood Pellet Heating Professionals. “We are in a situation of risk of tension”.
How can these “tensions” be explained?
This year, customers have requested wood pellets much earlier, in view of the start of production in 2022. “We are therefore selling stocks, there are no freshly produced pellets.” In fact, the request is usually much later. “People are preparing for winter with a crazy advance compared to previous years,” explains the professional. “When the sector finds its footsteps and increases its production capacity, there is a short delay. The supply is limited compared to the demand”.
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Second factor: new consumers arrive on the market every year. “Subsidized stove and boiler installations are progressing faster than the national capacity to produce the necessary fuels,” says the French Federation of Fuels, Fuels and Heating for its part. Result: some stores are forced to limit sales because stocks start to drop. And some brands are even sold out, as demonstrated by a Weldom store in Fleurance, in Gers: “We have no visibility on volume, date and prices, complains the management, questioned by La Dépêche. We have a lot of demand at the moment. this delivery does not arrive, it will be a shortage for the shop “.
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How long will they last?
“When we are just in time, it is normal for there to be jolts. But the situation should smooth out in the coming months.” However, according to the Federation, in the winter of 2022-2023, compared to the national production capacity, the supply deficit should be between -5 and -15% in volume. “This zone is linked to the climate: everything will depend on whether the winter is very cold or very mild”. The only solution would therefore be to resort to imports. “But it is being held back because many other countries, where the situation is similar, also want wood pellets and pellets.”
“The sector is developing more and more and is opening new production sites”, assures Propellet. It predicts an additional million tons distributed between 2021 and 2024 and a doubling of production capacity by 2028.
The prices have increased?
Currently, the price increase is tangible: if we look at the current market, the value per ton has doubled compared to 2021. “It’s the law of supply and demand,” explains Propellet. “However, it holds itself at an infinitely lower level than the other energies.”
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This price increase can also be explained by the rising cost of energy. “This does not directly concern the pellets, but rather the transport, storage etc. Unfortunately the entire production and distribution chain is affected”.
Are many French people worried?
Between 2020 and 2021, sales of pellet stoves increased by 41% and those of pellet boilers by 120%, respectively with 180,000 and 32,000 pieces. Furthermore, the non-renewal of diesel appliances from 1 July will continue to boost the progress of appliances and in particular of pellet boilers that function as oil boilers as they provide domestic hot water.
“This mode of heating is acclaimed by consumers and public authorities who have put in place numerous aids to encourage consumers to convert to it.”
What advice for consumers?
Propellet invites customers to pay attention and behave responsibly to avoid shortages. “It pays to wait. Especially since, unless a tragedy occurs, the pressure on prices should subside,” says the French Federation of Fuels, Fuels and Heating.
Another recommendation: “Given the current circumstances, in the case of a stove or boiler installation project, we advise consumers to make sure upstream that a supplier can supply them.”