The Swiss are rushing for firewood and prices are rising

The Swiss are rushing for firewood and prices are rising

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In anticipation of the announced energy shortage, many Swiss households are turning to wood for heating this winter. But available stocks are limited and prices are rising sharply.

If Switzerland is in the middle of a heat wave, the Swiss population is already thinking about its possibilities of heating next winter with the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the threats of a shortage of electricity and gas. The demand for wood is booming and producers are struggling to keep up. Prices have already increased by 10%.

Some sellers delivered more than twenty tons of firewood in one month, unheard of in the height of summer. More than half of the orders come from new customers who previously heated with gas. They now fear the shortage and have decided to take the lead.

>> Read also: Russian gas is no longer flowing. What could be the consequences in Switzerland?

“We sell wood as if it were December”

Asked Thursday in La Matinale, Flavien Desbiolles, farmer in Meinier (GE), had to ask his teams to shift their holidays to meet the demands, especially since the harvests are in progress. And it will not deliver in August in order to replenish stocks.

For the rest, that’s the big question: “I don’t think I’ll have wood all winter, because we’re selling wood as if it were December. I’m already drawing on the reserves this fall. I will be concerned about not having the raw material to market.” And this, especially since the firewood does not adapt easily to demand: it takes two years of drying and two years of anticipation are therefore necessary.

Stocks will probably not be enough to satisfy everyone, warns Hansruedi Roder, Geneva farmer and wood seller: “The firewood is prepared two years in advance. This means that the one we are going to burn this autumn has been felled, shaped and dried two years ago. Nobody could predict that there would be a very strong increase in demand. If it continues at this rate and at these volumes, there will be no there won’t be enough wood, it’s mathematical,” he explains.

>> Hansruedi Roder’s interview in the Matinale:

Firewood: interview Hansruedi Roder, wood seller in Geneva / La Matinale / 43 sec. / today at 06:25

Call for grants

To deal with this situation, National Councilor Daniel Ruch, who runs a forestry company, will soon table a motion in Bern to encourage cutting in difficult terrain.

The elected liberal-radical Vaudois specifies that there is a large reserve of wood in the embankments and the sloping forests. But “the yield from the forest does not cover the exploitation. This is where the Confederation or the cantons should subsidize the forest exploitation.”

An energy source that cannot be used everywhere

Heating with wood is in fact rather a good idea, because it is indeed a renewable energy, as long as its combustion is compensated by the regrowth of forests.

But this source of energy cannot be used everywhere, underlines Damien Chiffelle, energy expert at the Center for Energy and Municipal Research, an association based in Martigny (VS): “You really have to think about where your building is, because that if you are in an urban environment, there may be concerns about air pollution, since wood emits more pollutants than gas. Depending on the area, there is a ban on installing wood heating”, notes he.

In the meantime, professionals in the sector give advice: only buy the wood that will really be consumed, to avoid doing as with toilet paper during confinement…

Mohamed Mohamed/friend/boi

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