21 Nov 2022, 13:53
Carolina Kyllmann

Large-scale electricity blackouts in Germany “extremely unlikely” this winter - civil protection office

Clean Energy Wire / Welt am Sonntag

The likelihood of power blackouts in Germany this coming winter is low, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) has said. “A large-scale power blackout in Germany is extremely unlikely” and it is also “considered unlikely that targeted power cuts will occur regionally and for limited periods of time,” the agency said. The country’s federal network agency (BNetzA), which supervises the operators of energy supply networks, also reiterated that the likelihood of power cuts this winter is low, given there are numerous mechanisms in place for stabilising the grid in tense situations. Answering to whether power supply was at risk this winter, BNetzA head Klaus Müller said "The short answer is: don't panic." He added that "power cuts can indeed occur in winter, but these should usually be announced in advance, limited to certain regions and last a maximum of four hours."

BBK head Ralph Tiesler warned that not all municipalities in Germany are sufficiently prepared for a power outage, which is a possibility in the context of regional and targeted power cuts to protect the grid (so-called brownout). According to Tiesler, preparedness for crisis situations, such as power outages, varies greatly between municipalities, with some not being sufficiently prepared, and he emphasised the importance of adhering to precautionary measures.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis have brought uncertainty to Germany’s energy supply security. The country’s electricity system is one of the most reliable in the world, yet the possibility of power shortages, while stated as unlikely, hasn’t been fully ruled out by transmission system operators. Factors such as reduced power supply from France’s nuclear plants (as Germany's grid is highly interconnected with its neighbouring countries), unfavourable weather conditions for renewable power production, or increased electricity demand (for example through electric heaters) all increase the likelihood of (controlled) power cuts in Germany.

[UPDATE 22.11.22: Adds Klaus Müller statement.]

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