AIEL updates the analysis on wood fuel prices
The general decline in prices continues prices of woody biofuels compared to last year’s levels, giving relief to millions of families who have chosen biomass heating to save money by exploiting the renewable heat of wood. This is demonstrated by the findings conducted by AIEL, the Italian Association of Agroforestry Energies, which show that as early as April 2023, pellet prices had fallen rapidly and prices tended to pre-crisis levels, while in September 2023 prices appeared stable with a 40% reduction in the cost of pellets compared to the previous year. Furthermore, despite the approach of the beginning of winter, which traditionally sees a slight increase in prices due to the increase in demand, there are no elements that suggest a new increase during the 2023-2024 thermal season, as will instead physiologically happen in natural gas. The survey, carried out every four months by AIEL at associated companies and large-scale retail outlets, reveals a national average price of €6.4/bag + VAT for EN certified pelletsplus® A1 packaged in 15 kg bags. A price level that leads to savings of more than €4/bag compared to the September 2022 findings. The analysis also allows us to highlight how the regions of Northern Italy enjoy lower prices on average, with an average of €6.23/bag, while the Islands pay a higher average price of €6.96/bag, due to higher transport and logistics costs.
Finally, it should be remembered that, in Italy, the reduction to 10% of the VAT rate on pellet sales has also contributed to reducing the final price of pellets. About it, the wood-energy supply chain is clamoring for the reconfirmation of this measure also in 2024for a set of excellent reasons ranging from the fight against energy poverty to the fight against elusive phenomena linked to the so-called “carousel fraud”, from the stabilization of the market of pellet-fueled domestic appliances, to respect for the principle of technological neutrality and to the reduction of the gap tax between bioenergy and other fuels used in domestic heating.
Loose pellets in tank trucks also drop
EN quality pellets are also decreasingplus® A1 sold with delivery by tanker, which in September 2023 recorded an average national price of €376/t (retail, ex-works, excluding VAT): an average decrease of -230 €/t compared to the same period of last year.
read also Bioenergy is the main renewable source in Europe
Firewood: competitive biofuel
The findings of firewood prices for September confirm that Traditional wood continues to be among the cheapest renewable biofuels for home heating, the price of which varies mainly based on the packaging (pallets or loose) and the degree of maturation (or water content). The findings of September 2023 attest to a average cost for firewood with water content (M) equal to 20-25% of €212.88/t, €28 less compared to the same month of the previous year. By purchasing more humid firewood the price varies from €196/t for wood with a water content of 30-35% (-6 € compared to 2022) at 201 €/t for wood with water content equal to 40-50% (-34 € compared to 2022). However, it should be underlined that by purchasing wood with a water content higher than 30-35%, it is necessary to let it mature for the time necessary to bring the water content to 20-25%. The seasoning phase is essential not only because the use of seasoned firewood with a water content of less than 20% makes it possible to reduce PM10 emissions by up to 50% and organic carbon by up to 70% but also because it determines a better energy conversion efficiency and, consequently, greater economic convenience. In fact, comparing the energy cost of wood at different water content values expressed in €/MWh, wood with a water content of 20-25% costs €58/MWh, while that with a water content of 40-45% costs €75/MWh .
Wood chips: local fuel is also the most stable and economical
Wood chip price findings in September 2023 confirm the extraordinary convenience of heating buildings or producing process heat with this biofuel derived from local resources. The local supply chain that characterizes its production, in fact, was decisive in limiting price increases. Furthermore, its characteristic as a by-product of other wood processing combined with excellent energy efficiency make it one of the possible protagonists of the forestry economy of the future. In September 2023 the price of A1 quality class wood chips stood at €145/tonne or €39/MWh (excluding VAT), while class B1 wood chips had a price of €54/tonne or €24.13/MWh. Values that do not differ from the latest findings, further confirming the stability guaranteed by wood chips.
“Solid woody biomass is by far the most widely used renewable energy source in the heating sector, particularly in the form of firewood and pellets.”. Declares Annalisa Paniz, general director of AIEL. “Price surveys – continues Paniz – confirm once again and unequivocally that the trust of families who heat themselves with wood fuels is well placed, in both environmental and economic terms. This trust is fundamental in a context like the present one in which as many as 2.2 million Italian families are in conditions of energy poverty. This is also why it is important that measures such as maintaining VAT on pellets at 10% are confirmed to protect the most vulnerable consumers and the stability of market prices”.