German grid and nuclear plant operators step up coronavirus precautions
German operators of key energy infrastructure including power stations, gas and electricity grids have stepped up their precautions against a coronavirus pandemic, reports Jakob Schlandt in Tagesspiegel Background. "The primary goal is to protect employees from infection - especially employees in the system control room," a spokesperson from power grid operator 50Hertz told the energy newsletter. Employees are no longer allowed to travel to areas classified as risky – even private trips are banned – and all other business trips are being kept to a minimum. The operator also said it had reduced visits by foreign delegations "practically to zero”. Like other transmission grid operators, 50Hertz also operates a reserve control centre as a back-up.
The company said it is prepared for worst-case scenarios. In case of emergency, the system control room and other key technical divisions can operate "self-sufficiently and largely isolated from the environment for weeks. To this end, we have staff, a lounge and a bedroom, as well as food supplies," the spokesperson said, adding key spare parts for the grid are also available. Germany's other transmission grid operators Tennet, Amprion and TransnetBW have similar policies, according to the article. Gas grid operator Open Grid Europe (OGE) has also put additional precautions in place to make sure gas can continue to flow to consumers, including cancelling all internal and external events that are not strictly necessary. Germany's eleven gas grid operators also have reserve control rooms as a back-up at their disposal.
Nuclear power plant operators have also put new rules in place. RWE, for example, is disinfecting radiation meters that are regularly used by employees more often. The company has also closed visitor centres, and cancelled scheduled group visits to lower the risk of infections, a spokesperson told the publication.