Firewood shortages in France are intensifying and prices have jumped by more than 20% since June due to soaring demand, more people in the market, and fears over the price of other fuel.
Firewood providers are warning that there will not be enough wood for everyone this winter.
This is partly due to a sharp increase in the number of households in the market. In 2019, a report from wood group le Comité national pour le développement du bois estimated that there were “between 7.5 and 8 million households in France that have a firewood fuelled heating source installed (both logs and wood pellets)”.
However, in 2022, the energy agency l'Agence de l'environnement et de la maîtrise de l'énergie (Ademe) said that the government is aiming to have 9.5 million households using woodfired energy by 2023, and 11.3 million by 2028.
Gérard Fellous, director of Quality-bûches, told Le Figaro: “Over the last few weeks, Ademe has greatly promoted heating with pellets. But this has caused a significant increase in the price of wood.
“Pellet prices have tripled over the past six months, leading to rises in logs and our costs.”
Mr Fellous also said that the cost of raw wood has risen by 20%, requiring producers to pass the cost onto their customers. He said: “I have seen three rises since the start of the summer, which are purely due to repercussions from [rising] prices from the supplier.”
Demand began early, in July this year, he said, when usually it only starts in autumn. He said: “Without doing any advertising, I receive 100 calls per day, which I send straight to voicemail. This has never happened, it’s unheard of.”
Julian, a heating wood supplier, also said that he “had never seen such demand in my life”. He said he is receiving 40 calls per day, versus just five normally. He said: “I hope that winter won’t be severe, otherwise it will get very complicated.”
He has started to limit the number of supplies he can sell per person. Patrick Helb, a wood seller in Moselle, said: “There is no more stock anywhere, I am keeping my supplies for my usual regulars, and hoping to hold out until the end of the winter.”
A metre cubed of wood usually sells for €55-57 each, but now Mr Helb is selling them at €60 to €65.
It also comes after a change in a law from September 1, which requires wood sellers to offer clients information on their wood, including about the fuel, length, quantity, and humidity levels. From September 2023, logs measuring less than two metres must only be of dry wood.
This is likely to cause an extra shortage in the future, given that it takes 18-24 months to fully dry firewood.