End of Russian wood pellets mean soaring bills for biomass boiler owners

Suppliers are scrambling to find alternative supplies for homes and businesses that depend on the fuel for heating.

Homes and businesses heated by biomass boilers face soaring costs as the supply of wood pellets is disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is a major exporter of wood pellets burned for heating but UK importers are now scrambling to find alternative supplies. Thousands of homes and businesses have switched to wood pellet heating systems in recent years, encouraged by government support. Prices in the UK are thought to have risen by between 25pc and 40pc to as much as £385 a tonne, in line with costs across Europe.

Mark Lebus, chair of the UK Pellet Council, said the sector is working on “immediate and alternative measures to restructure its global supply chain, working with overseas partners to help ensure a continuous supply of biomass wood pellets for UK customers”. He added: “Wood pellets will no longer be sourced from Russia or imported from Russian producers. Given the previous levels of Russian exports, this will of course have an impact on supply worldwide, not just to the UK but for other countries too who are all now competing for the same premium product from similar suppliers.

“With UK and international sanctions in place, we estimate that total European production may be reduced by some 12pc to 15pc, so there may be some short-term price rises due to the ongoing situation and heightened competitiveness between countries.”

Most homes in the UK are heated by gas-fired boilers but gas costs have also rocketed over the past six months to about five times long-term averages. Dual-fuel gas and electricity bills are set to climb by more than 50pc next month when the price cap on energy bills is increased to an average of £1,971.

Mr Lebus said the Government should try to bolster domestic production of wood pellets for heating to reduce reliance on imports and create new jobs. “The UK cannot provide the required volumes needed, and therefore we import on a considerable scale and become drawn into a growing energy crisis,” he said.