The cold snap is seeing householders snapping up peat briquettes as demand for the fuel soared by 67% in March.
Michael Coleman, commercial manager of Bord na Móna Retail, has seen an “unprecedented” surge in demand for briquettes, with average sales during January, February, and March up 47% on 2012 figures.
Speaking at the firm’s Derrinlough plant in Offaly yesterday, Mr Coleman said: “Normally we would have over 40,000 tonnes of briquettes in stock here. We don’t have it. We are selling more or less out of current production.”
According to Mr Coleman, briquette production is meeting demand despite the wet summer which resulted in the poorest harvest in Bord na Móna’s history at just 37%.
During peak demand months from November to January, Bord na Móna was able to deal with a 30% increase in demand for briquettes.
Bitterly cold conditions in March have now led to a 67% rise in demand on figures from 2012.
Demand for peat briquettes is up 67 per cent in the month of March. BNM Stocks seriously depleted but contingency plan now in place— Ciaran Mullooly (@ciaranmullooly) March 26, 2013
Apart from the poor 2012 harvest, Bord na Móna had to contend with another setback when a fire caused extensive damage to its briquette factory in Littleton, Co Tipperary, before Christmas.
In some locations, Mr Coleman said the ban on turf-cutting in special areas of conservation has also increased demand for the briquette.
It is likely that many people are switching to solid fuel as oil prices climb. Rather then pay out hundreds for an oil bill, people are now spending smaller amounts on a regular basis by buying briquettes, logs, coal, or wood pellets
Michael Ganly of Ganly’s Hardware in Athlone, Longford, and Mountbellow, said: “What has typically been happening in the market out there is people have been substituting oil. Our own sales of logs are up about 60% or 70% on last year.”
Mr Ganley has seen a steady increase in demand for solid fuel ranges and products. “People are adapting to their pocket and it’s much easier to budget from week to week,” he added.
Bord na Móna said it is confident it can meet customer requirements through careful stock management.
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