Everything is good not to come across a gaslight this winter

Everything is good not to come across a gaslight this winter

The Swiss are flocking to alternative heating systems to gas and oil. Wood professionals also encourage people not to wait for the first frost to equip themselves, while prices are rising.

The demand for wood heating, which has increased during the pandemic, has accelerated further since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

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The demand for wood heating, which has increased during the pandemic, has accelerated further since the outbreak of war in Ukraine. “There were 80% more installations in the first six months compared to the same period in 2021,” Andreas Keel, director of Energie-bois Suisse, told AWP.

Faced with this increase, the sector recommends not to wait. The professional association propellets.ch therefore advises boiler owners to fill their silos as soon as possible for next winter. Because the sector suffers, like others, from logistical difficulties and lack of personnel. “There is a lack of trucks, drivers. For pellets, the wood must be dried. We cannot double the capacities from one day to the next.

The manager believes that the resources are there. “For example in Ticino, there is still great potential in terms of forests”, but “service is a problem, as is the lack of personnel. Over the past 30 years, the price of wood has been so low, many forest companies have laid off and closed units.”

In its latest analysis of the situation, the country’s Economic Supply (AEP) estimates that the supply of wood energy is currently assured in Switzerland, “the end of the heating period helping, and the demand can be covered”.

But faced with the demand for pellets, logs and chips, Andreas Keel is still worried about next winter. In particular for the supply of large district heating installations, while new projects are multiplying. “The demand is likely to be far too great in relation to the supply.”

Soaring prices

Another source of concern, prices which have soared. Last October, Mr. Keel paid 280 francs for a ton of pellets. “In January it was worth 360 francs and currently around 500 francs. It will continue to increase,” he warned.

From January to June, the consumer price index (CPI) for pellets rose by 13.1%, that of firewood increased by 7.4%, when the increase in the price for logs approached 4 % according to FSO. By way of comparison, fuel oil has soared by half and gas by 5%.

Other types of alternative gas and oil heating are in demand. The Swiss subsidiary of the German company Viessmann, present on both sides of the Sarine, has seen demand for heat pumps grow since last year. “The supply situation is currently critical and will worsen further this fall due to high demand,” a spokesperson said. The group claims to be able to offer alternatives, such as hybrid systems of heat pumps and photovoltaic installations.

Online, too, research is increasing. The Swiss giant Digitec Galaxus, a subsidiary of Migros, explains that in March, the sale of solar installations peaked. The demand for electricity generators grew by half in the first half and even by almost 80% in June. This behavior was clearly induced by the war in Ukraine, the spokesperson points out: in March, sales soared by 118%.

The company does not make forecasts, believing that consumer behavior “is highly dependent on the evolution of the war in Ukraine”.

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