For members


Reader Question: Why has the price of fuel for log-burners doubled in France?

The cost for one tonne of the wood pellets used to power wood-burners or stoves has doubled since the beginning of 2021.

Reader Question: Why has the price of fuel for log-burners doubled in France?
This picture taken on September 8, 2022 in Melesse, western France, shows wood pellets. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Question: We have a poêle in our home in south west France and we have noticed that the price of the wood pellets has rocked in recent months – is this an issue all over France? And why?

Although French consumers are largely shielded from the rocketing prices of gas and electricity seen in many European countries, there is one heating method that has not escaped rising costs – wood-burners.

Many French homes have either open fires or log-burners known as poêles, and the most efficient thing to burn in these are specially created wood pellets known as either pellets or granulés de bois

How much do they cost?

On September 20th, Eric Vial, the director of Propellet, the national association of wood pellet heating professionals, told Actu France that the price has almost doubled since last summer.

“Today, a tonne can be bought for about €600. At the beginning of 2021, it would be €300, €350”, Vial told Actu France on September 20th.

The pellets are usually sold in either DIY stories, specialist outlets or hypermarkets and of course the retail prices vary, but in most cases stores have had no choice but to pass the cost increases on to customers.

Why the increase?

Wood pellets have increased in price for several reasons, namely increased demand and higher production costs.

First, demand for wood pellets increased significantly this year. It also came earlier than it normally does, as people began preparing for winter earlier. Many customers placed order before the start of production for 2022.

“The supply is restricted compared to the demand,” explained a spokesperson for Propellet to La Depeche.

The increased demand amid concerns of energy shortages this winter came alongside a general trend of more installations of pellet-burners in France, as installations are supported by the government in an effort to reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels. Households can benefit from State aids and subsidies to install new or refurbish old heating systems.

READ MORE: Heating homes: What are the rules on fires and log burners in France?

Between 2020 and 2021, sales of pellet stoves have increased by 41 percent and sales of pellet boilers by 120 percent.

Stores across the country have been forced to limit sales with demand outpacing supply. One such shop is the Weldom store in Fleurance, near Toulouse, who found themselves out of stock in late September. Store owners told La Depeche that they have “a lot of demand at the moment” and if the re-stock delivery “does not arrive, it will be a loss for the store.”

Prices are also rising is due to increased production costs.

According to Propellet, production expenses first increased during the pandemic when plastic and metal elements needed for the creation of pellets were more difficult to find. Currently, the issue facing the industry is the price of electricity. 

Vial explained Actu France that “To manufacture pellets, you need electricity. Because of what is happening in Ukraine, [the price of electricity] has increased a lot.”

According to Christian Lejeune, the manager of the sawmill in Grand-Est, several companies that supply wood pellets are more directly impacted by the war in Ukraine. “They imported their supplies from Ukraine or Belarus,” explained Lejeune to Republicain Lorrain.

Unlike electricity and gas, wood pellets have not fallen under a government price shield to protect consumers from price increases related to inflation. 

READ MORE: LATEST: France to set maximum 15 percent gas and electricity price rises for 2023

Some local politicians, such as the MP for the Ardennes area, Pierre Cordier, have begun pushing for wood pellets to be covered by a price shield, as well as for action to be taken to protect against possible shortages. 

The Minister of Environment, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, responded to Cordier’s requests on September 13th, saying that the government has “taken measures to promote the production of pellet and not be in a supply impasse.” 

The details of such measures were not yet communicated as of September 26th, but according to the Prime Minister’s press conference detailing the extension of the energy shield for electricity and gas, households that use wood-burners will also benefit from the cheque energie, depending on their level of income.

Is there concern about a shortage?

Propellet told La Depeche that “we are not yet in a situation of shortage” instead they are concerned about “temporary strains.”

The association of wood pellet heating professionals expects that the situation will have “smoothed over in the coming months” but this will depend largely on the weather. A colder winter would increase demand.

In the event of a harsh winter, France might need to import wood pellets from other countries, which could prove problematic, as the situation for many other countries is “similar” to France in that there is increased consumer interest in purchasing wood pellets, according to Vial. 

The sector hopes to double its production capacity by 2028, and to distribute an additional one million tonnes between 2021 and 2024. 

On September 22nd, TotalEnergies inaugurated a new pellet bagging and bulk centre.

The plant, which was set up in partnership with the organisation Sea Invest, is intended to boost supplies by increasing the site’s processing capacity from 25,000 metric tons to 50,000 metric tons within three years. Pellets produced will be distributed in a 200 km area around Rouen.

What about firewood?

Consumers have also found themselves paying more for firewood due to a rise in demand – prices have gone up 20 percent since June, according to BFMTV.

When asked about the rising price of wood, the prime minister said that her administration would “look carefully at why wood has a high cost” adding that she believes it “can be produced on our territory.”

“We have forests in France so it will also be interesting to look at whether some people are not taking advantage of the crisis to increase prices,” said Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Member comments

  1. Any update on the pellet situation, still no stock in any bricos and supermarkets in our area. We changed from an oil boiler to pellet under the government scheme to help the climate and now have NO heating

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For members


Explained: France’s exit tax

Planning on leaving France? You may, depending on your circumstances, be charged the 'exit tax'.

Explained: France's exit tax

Like some other European countries, France does have an exit tax for those (French or foreign) who are leaving the country. It’s known by the English name l’Exit tax.

However, it won’t affect most people.

Only those who have been tax resident for a minimum six years of the 10 years immediately before they permanently move out of the country are liable to pay an exit tax – if, that is, they own property, titles or rights worth a minimum of €800,000, or that represent 50 percent of a company’s social profits.

If that affects you, the best advice is to seek expert individual financial advice before moving out of France for good. The relevant page on the French government’s website says it is possible to defer payments, and some relief is available.

Because of the relatively high figures involved, this tax is irrelevant for most people. That said, however, you will still have to inform tax authorities that you are moving out of the country because you may still have income, property and capital gains taxes to pay.

Income tax

You must inform the tax office that you are moving and give them your new address so that your tax declarations can be transferred to your new address.

You are liable for tax on everything you earned in France prior to your departure as well as on any French earnings that are taxable in France under international tax treaties that you earned after your departure.

The year of your departure, you declare your previous year’s earnings as normal – declarations in spring 2024 are for earnings in 2023.

A year later, you will have to declare any earnings taxable in France from January 1st up to the date of your departure, and any French-sourced income taxable source until December 31st of the year of your departure.

If you continue to have any French-sourced income – such as from renting out a French property – you will have to declare that income annually, using the non-residents declaration form.

Property taxes

You will have property taxes to pay if you own a French property on January 1st of any given year – whether it is occupied or not. 

Property tax bills come out in the autumn, but they refer to the situation on January 1st of that year, so even if you sell your property you will usually have the pay a final property tax bill the following year.

Moreover, if you receive income from property in France or have rights related to that property (such as shared ownership or stock in property companies), as well as any additional revenue connected to the property, during the year you leave France, you will be required to pay taxes on these earnings.

If any property assets in France exceed €1.3 million on January 1st of a given year, you may also have to pay the wealth tax (IFI).

READ ALSO What is France’s wealth tax and who pays it?

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Capital gains tax 

If you sell your French property or share of a French property, you may be liable for capital gains tax at a rate of 19 percent. It will also be subject to social security contributions at the overall rate of 17.2 percent.

Capital gains tax varies depending on how long you have owned the property and whether it was a second home or your main residence.

READ ALSO How much capital gains tax will I have to pay if I sell my French property?

The good news is, if you move to another EU country, or any country that has a specific tax agreement with France, you may be exempt from capital gains tax for non-resident sellers on the sale of a property that was your principal residence in France.

If you move elsewhere, you may be able to claim exemption on capital gains tax up to €150,000. As always, you should seek expert financial advice.

Tell Social Security

Inform social security that you are leaving France permanently – and return your carte vitale if you have one. If you do not, you may be liable for any benefits you receive to which you are no longer entitled.

More mundane tasks involve informing utility and water companies, your internet provider, if you have one, the phone company, your insurance companies, banks – and La Poste, who will be able to forward your mail for up to 12 months, for a fee…