Heat stroke on pellets in Haute-Marne – JHM

The production of pellets or wood pellets has been under pressure for a few months, so that in Haute-Marne, professionals limit deliveries to a single pallet per household. Prices also tended to rise. But the situation should calm down.

Alpha Pellets: “An extremely tense situation” in the fall of 2022

The production of wood pellets, or pellets, is particularly in tension. Overview with Bernard Piot, manager of the Alpha Pellets factory in Pratz.

Alpha Pellets, located in Pratz.

Located in Pratz, near Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, the Alpha Pellets company employs ten employees who work in three shifts. Finally, when they have enough raw material. The plant produces wood pellets sold in bulk. This year, approximately 10,000 tons of pellets will be produced in Pratz. Production is ramping up to meet growing consumer demand.

“The general situation is extremely tense for our factory, as everywhere in Europe. For four or five years, the pellet factories had very large stocks. The prices were very low. For a long time, this energy was the most competitive on the market,” explains Bernard Piot, manager of the Alpha Pellets plant.

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Pellets are very popular.

The pellet market has been tight for two years

For the wood pellet sector, things started to get tough about two years ago, with the announcement made by Emmanuel Macron of the end of the installation of oil-fired boilers. “For five years, the installation of boilers and pellet stoves has progressed. Last year, a record was broken. Year on year, 20% more pellets are needed to supply the market. » In this context where the stock continues to grow, many users used their pellet stove for auxiliary heating, in the evenings and on weekends.

“We would need five or six new factories in France to supply the market. With the energy crisis last year, suddenly, we experienced a gigantic consumption of pellets! » Stocks were high, so everyone was able to stock up. “We held out last winter, but we finished without stock. »

In the geopolitical context that we know, the war in Ukraine has slowed imports of pellets from Eastern countries. And the weakness of the euro also had an adverse effect on tariffs.

The drop in activity of softwood sawmills is an additional factor.

“You end up with demand exceeding supply and an absolutely incredible number of factors coming together,” summarizes Bernard Piot.

Pellets at Alpha Pellets
The Alpha Pellets factory runs in three shifts.

General increase in energy

The Pratz plant still runs on gas. Suffice to say that the bill will be salty. And when it comes to electricity – also used – the forecasts are no better. “In 2021, we were at €72 per MWh, in 2022 at €210 and for 2023, we will be between €550 and more than €1,000! » Bernard Piot says he is worried, especially sincethere is currently no help.

In the meantime, the Alpha Pellets teams are managing the crisis. “We have seen customers come from further and further away. In July, we repaired, then it quickly took on too large proportions. Now we give priority to customers within 50 km. People usually stock up in September and they stockpile. It will probably be quieter in October or November. Maybe it will relax. »

Sylvie C. Staniszewski

Did you know ?

There are different qualities of pellets. To check that you are dealing with a qualitative product, it is possible to do a very simple test: place a pellet in a glass of water. If it sinks, it means that its density is greater than water and that you are dealing with a good quality product. Conversely, you know what to expect.

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Heat stroke on pellets in Haute-Marne – JHM

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