Wood heating: the great pellet rush in Charente

Wood heating: the great pellet rush in Charente

Even at 9 euros per bag, we are still three times cheaper than electricity.

Claire, shop manager of Autour du Feu, a specialist in the sale of fireplaces based in Champniers, also relates this concern: “A lot of people call us to find out if we also sell pellets”. Dominique Combeau, president of Chazelles Cheminées, only offers it to his customers. The shortage? Not a figment of the imagination, says the boss. So much so that sales are feeling the pinch: the pellet stove, long preferred to the wood-burning one, has seen its popularity tarnished in recent weeks. Dominique Combeau, he ordered a slew of trucks of 22 tonnes of pellets for the winter. Like every year. “I know the orders I’ve placed, but I don’t know how much I’m going to pay for them”laughs the boss. “If the 15 kg are at 12 euros, I will have to sell them at 13”. For the time being, offers him the bag at 8.50 euros. “Even at 9 euros per bag, we are still three times cheaper than electricity”, he points out.

A price multiplied by two or even three

Clara, a 30-year-old living in Angoulême, has been heating her sixty square meter pavilion with a pellet stove since she had it built 7 years ago. On average, “we consume for the winter between 30 and 40 bags” of this fuel, unrolls the young woman who lives with her companion. Average bag price in previous years: “ between 3 and 4 euros”. Clara noticed a few days ago “that this price has tripled in certain brands”.

So when she hears of a ” plan ” to obtain pellets for ” not too expensive “, Clara rushes to the occasion. And decides, for once, to stock up for the winter. Finally, it is with the company Chausson, in Soyaux, that she ends up buying about forty bags at 8.50 euros each. Lamenting in passing “consumers who rush to buy goods and buy three or four pallets when they only need one”. A good fuel for scarcity…

In Charente, a producer facing exploding costs

Based in Verdille, the Durepaire company produces some 20,000 tons of woodchips each year. For the boss, Patrick Mesnard, the soaring price of pellets is multifactorial. The enthusiasm of the French first, for solutions for boilers and other wood stoves, which exploded in 2022*.
“The wood pellet market has been growing steadily at 10% per year for 10 years,” further notes the industrialist, historic producer of chips in the region. To meet the demand, “We have invested heavily”. But when in Europe (25 million wood chips consumed per year), the cold peaks required a contribution from imports, “ 10 to 15% of this surplus came from Russia and Ukraine. The consequence of this blocked flow: by an inverted domino effect, the market tightens and the price increases mechanically. Not to mention, explains the boss, “that our expenses have also exploded: electricity, packaging, wood, wages, transport. I understand that consumers are annoyed, but we are doing everything we can to lighten the bill”.
* According to the Tricolor Syndicate for Renewable Energies, sales of automatic wood boilers increased by 164% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

12.90

€12.90

This is the maximum price of the 15 kg bag that we found around Angoulême, in a DIY store. The lowest: 7.90 euros, in the supermarket.

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