Czechs stock up on firewood in fear of rising energy prices

Despite the heating season having just finished, Czechs are already stocking on firewood for the next one, fearing the rising energy prices, Czech Television reported on Monday.

For example, the Hradec Králové Municipal Forests report a threefold increase in demand for firewood compared to last year. Even people who had previously preferred other heating sources are now buying wood, even though its price is also growing.

In the forests of Hradec Králové, prices of firewood have increased by fifty percent since the beginning of the year. Forest supervisor Tomáš Jankovský says the greatest demand is for two-metre logs of spruce or pine, adding that their supply is sufficient at the moment.

“As far as coniferous fuel wood is concerned, we are able to cover the demand, but unfortunately there is a shortage of deciduous fuel wood,” Jan Rousek from the Czech Forestry Academy in Trutnov told Czech Television.

Stove salespeople and stove builders are also registering a growing demand. Michal Sládek, owner of one of the stove companies in Hradec Kralové, recorded a 300 percent increase in demand for stoves on the previous year. Some of the products that customers order these days will therefore not be delivered until December, he told Czech Television.

People relying on natural gas heating are also bracing themselves for higher prices. Last year, consumption of natural gas rose to almost 9.5 billion cubic metres, up nine per cent year-on-year. This was the highest figure in fifteen years, but the number of customers has been slightly declining in the long term.

Households account for only about a quarter of total consumption, although they make up the majority of the 2.8 million customers. They use gas either directly or indirectly, for example through water heating in heating plants. The bulk of the gas supplies are used in industry and the power sector during the winter months.

At the moment, nearly all of the country’s natural gas supplies come from Russia. Production from domestic reserves covers about two per cent of consumption and even fuel bought on European markets in fact originates in Russia.