Demand for wood that has been divided into pieces for firewood is growing throughout Europe and surrounding countries. A businessman, who owns a warehouse close to Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, is installing a new security gate there because he is worried about desperate people stealing his products. The priceless resource in jeopardy is firewood.
His actions are a reflection of the growing worry felt by Europeans as they prepare for this winter’s energy shortages and potential blackouts. The latest indication of the region’s crucial position as Russia reduces supply in the standoff over the war in Ukraine is the alleged destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline.
European Union leaders met in Prague on Friday but were unable to reach consensus on a gas price ceiling due to worries that such a measure may jeopardise regional supplies.
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Since natural gas and electricity account for up to 70% of heating in Europe and Russian deliveries have been significantly restricted, wood, which is already used by over 40 million people for warmth, has grown in demand.
In France, the cost of wood pellets has nearly doubled to 600 euros per tonne, and there are indications that people are buying it in a panic. Hungary even went so far as to forbid pellet exports, and Romania put a six-month price cap on firewood. Deliveries of wood stoves might now take months.
Along with worries about shortages, a rise in living costs is being exacerbated by the energy crisis, with euro-zone inflation reaching double digits for the first time ever in September. A growing number of struggling households in the area are forced to choose between heating and other necessities.
A producer of high-end tiled stoves that typically cost 86,000 Swedish kronor, has seen a surge in demand as a result of the trend. Due to their complex design, which uses numerous channels to store and transport heat, stoves can keep a room warm for 24 hours.
Customers now have to wait until March for delivery, up from as little as four weeks a year ago due to a more than fourfold increase in orders.