Peter Engelke has his warehouse near the former Berlin-Tempelhof Airport. And recently his hall also has a security fence. The Berliner had set this up to protect his valuable goods from thieves. Because Engelke stores firewood – one of the most sought-after fuels in the energy crisis.

The price development shows how popular firewood is at the moment: a tonne of wood pellets now costs 763.76 euros – more than three times as much as in September 2021. The strong demand has already led many European countries to take action. Hungary has imposed an export ban on pellets, while Romania has agreed to cap firewood prices for the next six months.

“People are desperate for wood and they are buying more than usual,” says Trond Fjortoft, founder of the Norwegian timber trader Kortreist Ved, to “Bloomberg”. “That usually happens when it gets colder. Then people say ‘Oh, we should order wood’. That was already the case in June this year.” During the same period, Russia had started to cut back on its gas supplies.

The energy crisis would have prompted some consumers to panic buy on a huge scale. Some customers have ordered two tons of pellets, says Frederic Coirier, an executive at Poujoulat SA, a manufacturer of wood fuel and chimney flues. However, less than a ton would be enough to heat a house for a year.

Some people, on the other hand, would consider alternative fuels, explains the Federal Association for Chimney Sweeps. So not only the inquiries regarding the connection of new and old ovens would increase. Questions regarding the burning of horse manure and other obscure fuels are also increasing.

Peter Engelke not only increased the safety precautions around his firewood warehouse, but also had to decide to stop accepting new customers. His outlook for the cold season is gloomy. “We are looking forward to winter with great concern,” said the Berliner about “Bloomberg”.