Between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and sky-high oil and gas prices, a significant pellet fuel supply shortage is likely this winter season. Industry experts say you should plan ahead and secure your fuel now for the cold winter months. The good news is that, currently, there is plenty of supply to stock up.
As Tim Portz, executive director of the Pellet Fuels Institute, explains, Russia is the second largest producer of wood pellets globally, supplying more than 2 million tons to global markets in 2020. But sanctions and restrictions due to the invasion of Ukraine have required U.S. pellet producers to fill the gap.
What’s more, the sticker shock Americans may experience this winter when reviewing their energy bills will likely have many switching to pellet heating in search of a better deal, and those with multiple heating options may start opting for pellets, putting extra demand on potentially short supplies.
“Wood pellet demand fluctuates year to year; however, with heating oil, natural gas, electric and propane prices at near historic highs, we could see record sales of pellets in 2022-2023,” says Portz. “Consumers will need to be savvy. To ensure their annual supply is secured, they should stock up now.”
Wood pellets are used as primary or secondary space heat in more than 1 million homes nationwide. Pellets are a renewable, clean-burning fuel made from the waste streams generated by the manufacturers of products like dimensional lumber, hardwood flooring, wood pallets and cabinetry. Although supplies are strong right now, pellet producers are highlighting the importance of keeping inventory moving through the system.
With the capacity to produce more than 1 million tons of wood pellets each year, Lignetics Group, the largest residential wood pellet manufacturing company in the United States, notes that taking advantage of the surplus while it lasts will allow producers to run at full throttle and build inventory before usage begins to outpace production in the depths of winter.
Because pellets are competitively priced nationwide, consumers who opt for this method of heating will save hundreds of dollars over the course of a winter season compared to heating oil or propane, and thousands of dollars compared to electric heat.
“Many have already turned to wood pellet heating and many more are expected to do so amid the current energy crisis,” says Brett Jordan, CEO of Lignetics Group. “However, these consumers will need to take their wise choice a step further by being prepared. Fueling up now on your normal pellet supply will mean being able to take advantage of this sustainable and cost-efficient option all winter.”