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‘Perfect storm’ prompts woodburner fuel warning

Log Shortage
August 5, 2022

A ‘perfect storm’ could prompt a shortage of logs for woodburning stoves this winter.

That’s the stark warning from leading industry experts who say the rush for independent fuel sources is likely to put suppliers under significant pressure.

The big issues include:

  • Massive price increases in gas, electricity and oil mean greater demand for logs.
  • Supply chain problems for internet/national suppliers
  • Fuel security concerns regarding the Ukraine-Russia conflict
  • New legislation on wood fuel

Lawson Wight, chairman of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, warned that members are already reporting concerns among customers.

“I think there will be shortages. There’s a perfect storm of factors coming together which suggest there will be difficulties. However, there are some things we can all do to help.”

“The warning signs were already in place in the winter of 2020 – 2021, when many local dealers ran dry. This was mainly due to COVID lockdowns and people therefore spending more time at home  Fires and stoves were used for more hours each week and by mid-January, many were running short and trying to order more.”

Lawson warns that the UK’s supplies of imported logs are at risk.

“A lot of imported wood fuel is pellets destined for power stations, but a significant amount is logs and wood destined for  the nation’s stoves and fires. Some of this comes from Belarus and western Russia via Baltic states. We can assume some of these sources are gone and supply routes are interrupted, placing extra pressure and cost on remaining stocks.”

“In addition, some European countries are seriously exposed to a winter fuel crisis due to reliance and insecurity regarding Russian gas supplies. We have already heard the energy saving stories of Germans having cold showers at the swimming pool, public buildings going unlit and a ban on portable heaters and air conditioners. Many, European homes have highly efficient wood stoves. It seems likely that consumers in these countries will be looking to secure supplies.”

“Even if supplies don’t actually run out, the pinch could lead to significant price hikes.

If shortages occur, supplies may start to dry up around the second half of January when many customers look at their log store after the Christmas splurge and want to stock up.”

“Because of all this, we’re advising chimney sweeps to encourage customers to buy their whole winter supply right now (August / September). Sweeps are helping by advising their customers during the sweeping visit and posting information to their websites and social media.”

“We were asked ‘Won’t buying now lead to shortages?’ No, quite the opposite. Stocking up now for the whole winter will allow suppliers and producers the time and space to process further stock for later in the season, so you’ll actually be helping!’

“Some of us can also take positive action to help the situation in future years. People with enough storage space should look to source their logs a year or more in advance. This not only secures their supply but allows local dealers to supply more fresh cut ‘green’ wood for drying at home, taking some pressure off the pre-dried market. It may also save consumers money as green wood is usually cheaper. This is a habit which comes very naturally to our European neighbours. Who knows, perhaps we will even begin to see some of those wonderful continental ‘log pile sculpture’ creations.”

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