As if on a swing – the next production of fired bricks in the Czech trio – KM Beta is uncertain this year. Due to the high prices of natural gas, the company even decided to suspend the production of fired bricks and informed its customers about its move.
At the end of August, she started the process of turning off the furnace. However, during the preparations for the interruption of production, the price of gas fell – to the current level of 200 euros. The company therefore re-evaluated the plans for the shutdown. Other production – i.e. roof tiles, masonry, plasters or adhesives – continues without complications.
The furnace “turns off” for a week
After the collapse of its energy supplier Lumius, which, like Bohemia Energy, ceased operations at the beginning of the year, the company had a very difficult time looking for a new energy supplier that would offer fixed prices. “The problem was finding suppliers at spot prices,” says the company’s executive director, Marek Žídek. While in January 2021 the company paid 18 euros per MWh, a week ago it was more than 300 euros. “The price is currently falling, and if this trend continues, production interruption will not be necessary,” says Žídek.
At the same time, it is not easy to turn off the brick kiln. Similar to the glass industry, it takes more than a week to extinguish the furnace in which the bricks are fired at a temperature of approximately 900 degrees.
Sklárna Moravia is also preparing to shut down the glass furnace due to energy prices. Due to energy prices, production costs for one bottle have risen from 15 crowns to 80 crowns.
Czech companies are now becoming uncompetitive against foreign companies that have cheaper energy. Textilka Juta has already started layoffs because of this, the Czech plants of the auto parts manufacturer JTTEKT Europe are paying the highest energy prices in the entire concern and are losing competitiveness not only within the corporation but also with the competition.
“If the price of energy should remain at the current level, the impact on the competitiveness of the Czech Republic as one of the most industrialized countries in Europe will be fatal,” says Bohuslav Čížek, director of the economic policy section of the Union of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic.