“Firewood is the new gold” .. Europe prepares for winter with coal and wood stoves

“Firewood is the new gold” .. Europe prepares for winter with coal and wood stoves
“Firewood is the new gold” .. Europe prepares for winter with coal and wood stoves

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, and the West imposing sanctions on energy imports from Russia, gas and oil prices soared around the world, especially in Europe, which relies heavily on Russian gas for industry and heating during the winter.

The “Washington Post” newspaper prepared a lengthy report showing the reflection of the high prices on the ground, and many resorting to coal and wood stoves as an alternative means of heating in the winter, while the report pointed out that the high demand for them led to their loss from the market, and several cases of wood theft were recorded.

German citizen Jörg Mertens realized that the confrontation between the West and Russia had driven up energy prices across Europe, but his August bills left him stunned, and his energy bill rose 70 percent.

“I’m afraid,” the 60-year-old from Munich said in a soft voice. After the rent, the increased costs – about $190 a month for electricity and heating, compared to $112 before – will keep him $366 a month for food, medicine and transportation, during “Germany’s worst bout of inflation since the 1970s,” according to the newspaper.

“I will have to buy less food. How am I going to pay the rent in the winter?” said Mertens, who has a spinal condition and lives on a pension.

And across Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of natural gas exports as a weapon — Europeans say, to punish the West for imposing sanctions on Russia — is throwing a bombshell at consumers in some of the richest countries on Earth, according to the newspaper.

The hardest-hit countries – including Germany, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands – have seen annual taxpayer increases of 210%, as officials and analysts warn of possible rationing and winter blackouts.

In Britain, cash-strapped residents are abandoning pets, while schools warn that rising energy costs mean they can no longer afford new textbooks. In Poland, officials are considering distributing anti-smoke masks, as Poles are considering burning rubbish to keep warm in winter. And in Germany, old West Berliners are dusting off the coal and wood furnaces that once served as insurance against Russians targeting energy supplies during the Cold War.

Many European countries suffer from the scarcity and high prices of firewood, and thieves are taking advantage of it, stealing logs from “pickups”, and scammers creating fake websites, pretending to be timber sellers to deceive desperate consumers. In many countries, wood-burning ovens were almost completely sold out.

“Firewood is the new gold,” said Franz Lönninghake, 62, of Bremen, Germany, who has pre-orders for wood-burning furnaces and expects his energy bill next year to reach $4,500, up from $1,500 in the 12 months to May. Past.

Norbert Schrobeck, a chimney sweep in Berlin – a licensed technician in uniform to inspect chimney and charcoal stoves – said he’s seen an increase in demand, with Berliners refurbishing old stoves and installing new ones. It is feared that local residents’ purchase of portable heaters could lead to dangerous carbon monoxide leaks if they are improperly installed or used.

European countries are striving to reduce consumption, fill reserves and alternative sources of Russian natural gas, all while pledging hundreds of billions of dollars in financial aid to consumers and companies to stem the economic bleeding, according to the newspaper.

And at the end of last August, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said that in the worst conditions, next winter might see a two-hour blackout for French homes, amid a widespread energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

Bourne said that this situation is due in part to the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as plans to shut down about half of France’s 56 nuclear reactors for maintenance operations.

It is noteworthy that France relies on nuclear energy to generate about 67 percent of its electricity needs, and on gas to generate about 7 percent.

“That means we’ll produce less electricity, and there may be times, especially if it’s too cold, we might have trouble getting electricity. In such a case, we’ll take turns cutting off the electricity from block to block, for no more than two hours,” Bourne added. .

She explained that such a decision would be motivated by a set of bad circumstances, including Russia’s cutting off gas supplies, imposing restrictions on liquefied natural gas imports, and a very cold winter.

In a related context, the Russian state-controlled energy company “Gazprom” announced last August that it would suspend all gas shipments to the French company “Engee” due to a financial dispute. Engi said it had already obtained enough gas to meet its customer obligations.

On September 8, British Prime Minister Liz Terrace set high consumer energy bills for two years, as part of a package to reduce the economic shock of the war in Ukraine that could cost around 150 billion pounds ($172 billion).

With Britain facing a recession as household energy bills nearly quadrupled, Terrace has set the bills, calling it a “bold immediate action to protect consumers and businesses”.

Terrace announced that it would set energy bills for two years at a cap of 2,500 pounds (more than $2,800) a year for the average family, in the face of the rising cost of living.

Speaking before parliament, Terrace said energy prices would be set for six months for companies.

Increasing turmoil .. global government measures to “relieve the pain of inflation”

The disruptions in global supply chains due to the Corona pandemic have combined with the consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine, to raise the prices of energy, commodities and basic necessities.

The disruptions in global supply chains due to the Corona pandemic combined with the consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine, to cause the prices of energy, commodities and basic necessities to rise, according to a Reuters report.

On the last day of last August, Russia shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – the main link for gas to Germany – citing the need for maintenance. This month, Putin blamed Western sanctions for the delay and warned that he would cut energy supplies entirely if the West followed through on pledges to impose price controls on Russian energy exports.

The article is in Arabic

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