Wood Fuels in Europe in 2022: Everything You Need To Know
In this article, we’ll use our insights and understanding of the wood fuel market. By being at the forefront of the retail market in Ireland, we’re involved in various supply chains far beyond supplying the end customer.
As our supply chains extend from Eastern to Central from South to West of Europe, we do not speak of a specific country but look at Europe as a whole.
Our only goal is to share our insights with our existing and new readers and our best practices so all of us, the consumers of wood fuels, can have reasonable expectations for season 2022 and best prepare for what’s to come.
Finally, we’ll share links to articles we find interesting and would like to share with you. We'll also continue to update this article to share the most up-to-date information we have available.
" Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised. " - Denis Waitley.
What Is Happening?
At this time, you must be wondering what is happening in our industry now, what theoretical changes can happen, and how this will affect our total heating bill this winter?
For many of our readers, the current events might bring back to the 1970s energy crisis, how also a conflict at the time inflated the price of petroleum to record levels.
This time is no different with the Russian invasion in Ukraine and a swift EU policy change in energy.
In Ireland, so far, we have seen double and above increases in our gas and electricity bills, and as a result, biomass and wood and wood pellets, in general, are at the record price levels. Timber continually increased in value during Covid 19, and it’s tough to foresee the prices going down.
Timber as a commodity has remained volatile in price. Demand continues to grow, which started during Covid 19. Supply in Europe is now at its lowest due to the ban on all imports from Russia and Belarus, and the Ukraine market is not operational. All three countries are important for the timber trade in Europe. With the war still on and the economic sanctions in place, the prices are set to increase.
The days when one could forecast or make procurement plans for an entire season no longer exist. One thing Covid 19 left as a legacy is that supply chains need to be versatile and robust. As weather conditions primarily drive our supply and demand, that puts us in a tight position where planning can be even more difficult.
Increased operational costs from manufacturing to distribution will continue to drive the prices up for the end-user. We would welcome the governments to provide support in home heating grants for the use of wood fuels, but it’s doubtful to happen.
What Action Can You Take?
Taking action is one of the best actions you can take in times of uncertainty. As the wood fuels aren’t delivered via pipe or turned on with the switch, you can start planning your orders sooner in the year.
Generally, the producers and fuel retailers have a quieter period during the summer. They are well not guaranteed, but the prices could still be sitting at the level of the previous winter.
At ECOFUEL, we have started to notice a trend this summer with early bird orders but not only that. The orders are starting to increase in bulk.
Next are some of our recommendations that you can take today to avoid unpredictable price changes or supply disruptions later in the year.
It's no surprise. This year we are seeing a trend where many of our regulars have started to stock up on firewood and wood briquettes early in the summer. We can also see how beneficial our partnership with Humm is, which plays a role in providing interest-free finance.
The sharing economy is not a new word in our dictionary. Why not share a large bulk order with your family and friends? Your home might have a limited storage space, but by splitting the large bulk order, you can take the best value of your purchase.
This year we’re noticing larger bulkier orders shared amongst neighbours living in the same community or road.
If you are planning to spend your money on wood fuels, we recommend buying an energy-efficient fuel. Our recent lab tests at NUIG & UCD showed that our wood briquettes yield, on average, 10% greater energy output than our kiln-dried firewood and our Oak & Beech Pinikay heat logs tops our product list with an energy output of 5.26 kWh/kg.
We highly recommend them if you haven’t yet tested the compressed wood briquettes, and by buying a pallet, you can save even further.
Organising a new garden shed to accommodate bulkier orders in uncertain times can be a good idea. The extra shed space will give you the needed space to store larger orders, plus save you money by buying in bulk. It’s like buying oil of 200L or 1000L. The price reflects in volume.
We see this as a positive trend, and it's a way to guarantee the essential supply and avoid further price increases, which my estimates look unavoidable.
About Near Term Future
The green energy projects in Europe and the world will need to be accelerated to meet the climate goals and become more energy independent and sustainable. In the short term, wood fuel markets may remain volatile, and increased energy and fuel costs may further increase manufacturing and shipping costs, taking the end consumer prices in 2022 to new heights.
We recommend reading the latest Economist article on How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment.