Blackouts in Germany in 2022? The risk from dependence on Russian energy

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The Ukraine war has exposed how dependent Germany is on Russian energy. Should there be a longer power outage in Germany, the consequences would be catastrophic. Is Germany prepared for blackouts in 2022?

Blackouts in Germany in 2022? The Ukraine war could increase the risk of cyber-attacks on the power grid. How prepared is Germany for the increased threat situation?

Blackouts in Germany: What would it mean for you?

A widespread power failure in Germany due to Blackouts is considered the worst catastrophe scenario. According to the German Insurance Asso­cia­tion (GDV), the first 24 hours without electricity bring life as we know it to a standstill. The GDV warns that Germany is not well prepared for such a scenario. 

What is a blackout?

With regard to power failures, a sudden and national power failure of large power grids is referred to as a blackout.

Growing dependency on electricity in Germany

blackout
Bundesamt Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (BBK) – The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance

Government warns companies of MEGA blackouts in Germany!

The Federal Network Agency in Germany is currently in talks with major industries on “crisis preparation” for “unavoidable shutdowns” in a gas supply crisis.

Being discussed is the high demand for energy within individual industries and which companies should be given preference in an emergency when it comes to gas supply.

According to the “Financial Times”, several companies have already been warned by their suppliers that gas deliveries could be cut at the end of the year.

An energy crisis and blackouts in Germany will be bad for companies but good for ordinary consumers

If Putin actually turns off the gas supply (or if we stop energy imports from Russia) – private households would be given preference. This is what it says in the “Gas emergency plan for the Federal Republic of Germany“, which was published in September 2019.

Important: Household customers in Germany are subject to special legal protection in such a situation and are given priority. It is therefore considered unlikely that consumers will have to freeze in the coming winter.

The experts agree that a power failure would have serious consequences that would be tantamount to a national catastrophe. “Our society depends on a safe and reliable power supply in almost all areas. A long-lasting and widespread power failure would affect all critical infrastructures,” says Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK). “Failures in information and telecommunications, supply failures in the water and wastewater supply and the food sector would be particularly serious. Health care and the prevention of danger, which are of essential importance for society, would also be massively affected.” The dependency on the power supply is constantly increasing, which exacerbates the problem.

Why is there a blackout?

Causes of blackouts:

  • network disruptions
  • Increased consumption peaks (in cold winters with increasing heating demand)
  • Shutdown of nuclear power plants and insufficient power supply from alternative energies
  • Imbalance between production and consumption
  • Error in the power grid
  • Faults in switching elements
  • Bottlenecks in electricity imports (market manipulation)
  • power plant failures
  • terrorist attacks
  • hacker attacks
  • Severe storms, floods, disasters

Blackouts would mean a national catastrophe in Germany

blackout
Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag – Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB)

In analyzing the potential extent of the damage, the civil protection officers relied on a report by the Office for Technology Assessment (TAB) at the German Bundestag. This was created in 2011. Even then, it was assumed that the damage would be of a “special quality”: A large-scale and long-lasting power failure would cause enormous damage, which would be tantamount to a national catastrophe.

Warning of blackout consequences in Germany

A sudden, prolonged power failure would have catastrophic consequences in Germany. According to the German Insurance Association (GDV), Germany is not prepared for such a scenario.

The insurance association GDV sounds the alarm: In Germany, there is a lack of provisions for longer power outages with potentially catastrophic consequences. “Unfortunately, we are not adequately prepared in Germany for the consequences of a widespread power blackout,” said GDV General Manager Jörg Asmussen.

For an article published on the GDV website, the association interviewed several civil protection officers and crisis managers. Accordingly, a blackout is currently “one of the greatest risks for our country,” according to Wolfram Geier, Head of Risk Management and International Affairs at the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK).

What restrictions can arise out of a blackout? Emerging restrictions due to blackouts:

  • Complete failure of all communication networks
  • Even if smartphones still have sufficient battery life, there is no network reception
  • Long-lasting (days or weeks) power outages
  • Power outages over large areas (transnational)
  • No or insufficient emergency power supply (for bridging)
  • Cold apartment (heating failure)
  • No drinking water from the tap (pump failure)
  • No or insufficient supply of food
  • Overcrowded hospitals and consequent limited medical care
  • No or only insufficient supply of medicines
  • Garbage collection failure
  • closed shops
  • Lack of or inadequate sanitation

Germany is not prepared for potential blackouts in 2022

Albrecht Broemme, the former president of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), warns: “Germany is not at all prepared for a blackout.” The sensitivity for the consequences of a blackout does not exist in any social group.

But what could cause such a major power outage? Broemme considers hacker attacks to be the greatest danger. Terrorist attacks or extreme weather events could also jeopardize network stability throughout Europe at critical

Could cyber-attacks from Russia cause blackouts in Germany?

blackouts
Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) – Federal Office for Information Security

Possible Russian cyber-attacks on the German power grid are also conceivable, writes the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Because of the Russian war against Ukraine, the BSI is constantly assessing the situation.

“The BSI has strengthened its protection and crisis response and has activated the National IT Crisis Response Center for this purpose,” said BSI spokesman Joachim Wagner. “In addition, the BSI has also sensitized its target groups, including the federal administration, operators of critical infrastructures and other organizations and companies, and called for increased vigilance and readiness to react.”

The BSI is currently recognizing an overall increased threat situation for Germany. However, there is currently no acute threat to information security in Germany in connection with the situation in Ukraine. According to the BSI, this can change at any time.

10 basic rules in the event of a power failure and blackout in Germany

  1. Take precautionary measures in good time ( emergency supply without electricity)
  2. Don’t panic and keep calm (you can react appropriately because you have taken precautions)
  3. If all fuses are switched on, then go outside and check whether there is also a power failure on the street and at the neighbors’
  4. Pull plugs from electrical devices such as PCs, televisions (except refrigerators): In the event of fluctuations and sudden power recovery, and if the fuses do not blow immediately in the event of high current peaks, some devices can be damaged
  5. Keeping passageways in the house or apartment clear
  6. Use reserve power sparingly
  7. Avoid driving in the event of a large-scale power failure
  8. Talk to neighbors and ask if their electricity has gone out too
  9. If you’re still without juice the next morning: Find out what the causes are and how long the power outage can last
  10. If it is foreseeable that there is a blackout (prolonged power failure), then the blackout precautions that you have already taken (about drinking water, food, cooking without electricity, etc.)

Everyone in Germany should prepare for potential blackouts in 2022

Emergency kit

According to the Federal Office for Disaster Management, there have not yet been any power outages due to hacker attacks in Germany. However, the BBK advises each individual to prepare for a possible crisis. 

You should get provisions for 10 to 14 days, have the essentials at home and be able to get by without the help from third parties.

Sufficient drinking water, a battery-operated radio, candles, a gas cooker, and canned food should be included, as well as a supply of the necessary medication, a fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit, according to the recommendation. 

Important documents should be collected in a folder and always kept somewhere you can easily reach. However, the civil protection officers assume that very few people in Germany have prepared for such a case.

Health care at home during a blackout

  • Have a fully stocked first aid kit ready
  • The first aid kit contains at least one rescue blanket
  • Keep a basic supply of important medicines ready
  • Regularly refresh your basic knowledge of first aid

Grocery supply in Germany during a blackout

blackouts
Blackout Food Prevention: Non-perishable foods some of which are best eaten directly without cooking

It is always advisable to stock a basic supply of non-perishable groceries at home.

The BBK recommends having a minimum requirement of 2,200 kilocalories per person per day. Here, too, quantities should be planned for at least 10 days.

Now of course you could just bunker 5 bags of rice and you would have taken care of the carbohydrates.

In your own interest, however, you should make the food emergency provisions a little more varied. Because 10 days without electricity at home can be quite long. At least the food should taste good.

Tips for emergency food preparedness:

  • Durable food in cans, jars
  • Do not rely on frozen long-life foods (these will spoil if there is a long-lasting power failure)
  • Air-dried foods (hard sausage, hard cheese, hard bread)
  • Freeze-dried foods
  • Dried beef jerky
  • Potatoes, onions and some fresh fruit and vegetables always in stock
  • For babies in the household: Sufficient baby food
  • For pets: Sufficient animal feed

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Expaturm
Expaturmhttps://www.expaturm.com/
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany

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