December 9, 2022

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Energy Crisis: Indigenous Firewood | tagesschau.de


Frequently Asked Questions

Status: 15.10.2022 06:00 am

Firewood prices are rising – demand is high this year. Where does the filling come from? Where did the tree burn? And how is climate balanced? Answers to some questions.

How does demand grow?

“Demand is very high,” says Jörg Sellick, a wood dealer in Frankfurt am Main. A homeowner from southern Hesse reports that his wood dealer is refusing new customers. Existing customers will be allotted only the amount they purchased in previous years.

And wood-burning stoves have been installed over the years. On the one hand, these are real wood-burning stoves and are often used as additional heat. On the other hand, central heating: in the first half of 2022, almost every tenth new central heating system worked with wood. By heating the pellets, compressed droplets from the sawdust are burned, charcoal heating directly left over from wood processing.

Waste from sawmills is primarily used for wood central heating. Germany produced 9.2 million tons of logs and logs last year, up from 4.8 million tons 10 years ago. The proportion of wood chips decreases; Particles trumps. The bottom line is that almost one-tenth of the products are exported.

How does the offer come about?

Real logs should be burned in living room stoves. It may be worthless wood. Forests are dying due to drought, heat and beetle attacks. This “damaged wood” is useless for the construction and furniture industry, but makes good firewood.

Long-term, firewood harvesting has varied from 9.5 to eleven million cubic meters over the past decade. In recent years, the numbers have been steadily increasing: in 2021 it will be almost twelve million cubic meters. Roughly calculated, this corresponds to 6.5 million tons of firewood.

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Foreign trade is practically irrelevant for firewood. Some tens of thousands of tons were imported from Ukraine, Belarus and Poland in 2021; There are significantly fewer German dealers selling in neighboring countries. Although there are no imports from Ukraine and Belarus this year, this should be compensated by production in Germany.

But overall, demand has risen much faster than production. Firewood and wood pellets have risen in price by 86 percent on the German market in less than a year.

Are wood heating systems climate-neutral?

Whether wood can count among renewable energies is debatable. Producers promise that the wood is climate-neutral. Only the amount of CO2 previously stored by the tree will burn. Storage capacity is conserved through afforestation.

Wolfgang Lucht of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research calls this the “milkmaid calculation”. The processing of wood produces additional CO2, making wood heating systems more harmful than coal, oil or gas. Deforestation is happening much faster than the growth of new forests. Firewood is “a material that lives on land,” says Lucht.

And wood is stolen?

Some state forest agencies report a dramatic increase in poaching. A spokesman for Hesse-Forst said there had been an “even large-scale” theft in the past few weeks. When asked, it was said that the Commission does not currently have an overview of the current levels. Any lost merchandise will be recorded as stolen. “For example, shortages can also occur if a mover accidentally does not take all the wood from the stockpile”. The transportation of logs cut in forests to forest roads is referred to as packing.

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Forest officials in several federal states are trying to deter potential thieves. Camouflaged GPS trackers are provided on the ready lying tree. Their use led to significantly more criminal charges, Hessen-Forst reports. Although the stolen wood has to be tracked down, no culprits have been identified. Hessen-Forst has filed 81 criminal charges since 2018. A solution could be found in only four laws.

Hessen-Forst filed only one theft report this year. According to press reports, it could be a truck worth 4,000 euros near Hanau. We hear from the industry that even if wood does die again and again, it is often on a small scale. Official crime statistics do not list timber theft separately.