Germans Turn to Firewood as Energy Fears Bite

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Germans Turn to Firewood as Energy Fears Bite

Germans are switching back from gas, coal and electricity to burning wood.

The EU’s Ukrainian war sanctions and concerns about energy supplies have unsettled many citizens. The result: wood-burning stoves are in demand like never before. "People are unsettled or even scared," says the Central Association for Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning.

Wood-burning stoves and firewood have become scarce across Germany, with long waiting times for installation. Many manufacturers use parts from China, and supply chain issues are disrupting their arrival.

"When the war broke out, demand exploded," says a spokesman for the Central Association for Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning (ZVSHK) in Sankt Augustin on request.

But even a stove does not guarantee a warm living room next winter: because the firewood dealers are also faced with a nationwide rush of customers and can no longer meet soaring demand.

Wood as such is not scarce, but EU regulations mean that it cannot be sold unless it is seasoned.  Drying in the air takes two years and huge storage areas, so the traders have their wood dried "technically" with air blowers.

But the capacities are limited and It is now almost impossible to get dry firewood this year. And if householders can find it, they are shocked by the price of both firewood and wood pellets. According to data from the German Pellet Institute, their average price has almost doubled since January 2021 - from EUR 238.05 at the time to EUR 431.56 per ton in June.

Meanwhile, in Poland, people have been told that they should collect fallen and dead timber from the country’s forests in order to stay warm this winter. “You’ll pick up sticks and be happy”.


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