Europe Turns to Wood Amid Fuel Crisis. Can it Last?

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Europeans are going to have to start wearing two lusekofte.

Not only are natural gas prices in Europe skyrocketing, but so is the cost of a more simple and rustic fuel source: firewood, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Fan the flames

Russia’s war with Ukraine has reached far beyond their contested borders. In September Russia stopped pumping oil to the rest of Europe, devastatingly slashing what normally amounts to 40% of the EU’s total oil consumption. Nations like Germany, Moldova, and the Czech Republic have turned to firewood as an alternative to warming their homes in the cold months.

In Poland, the demand for kindling and timber from government-owned forests shot up 46% and 42%, respectively, compared to 2021. Further north in Denmark, searches for wood-burning stoves on DBA, an online marketplace similar to Craigslist, have boomed more than 1,300% in 2022. Forestry departments in Germany have begun bugging their log stockpiles with GPS trackers to avoid thefts.

Though still the cheapest way to heat a home, teepees and log cabins are quickly becoming just as unstable as natural gas:

  • Nic Snell of Certainly Wood, an English supplier, told the AP his company’s kiln-dried hardwood is 15% to 20% more expensive than last year and “could become more as the weather gets colder.” Germany’s statistics agency says prices for firewood and wood pellets made from sawdust rose more than 85% in August from a year earlier.
  • Egzona Shala, who leads the environmental group EcoZ in Kosovo, told the AP she’s found people illegally cutting trees at 5 a.m. in the area, leading to “vulgar deforestation without any criteria and control.”

ECB: The European Central Bank delivered another depressing blow to EU citizens Thursday, raising interest rates yet again, which will have ripple effects on everything including energy. The bank raised the deposit rate by a further 75 basis points to 1.5% – the highest rate since 2009 – and more hikes are coming in the future. At a press conference, ECB Chief Christine Lagarde was curt, saying, “We have to do what we have to do.” Talk about throwing another log on the fire.