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Germany floats idea of ‘rolling blackouts’ over winter

Country is trying to balance reliance on Russia while castigating it for the invasion of Ukraine

Bulb covered in sand

A German politician has warned that the country may be facing ‘rolling blackouts’ over the winter months as the country struggles to cope with the fear that Russia may strangle gas supplies.

As reported in Berliner Zeitung, Thorsten Akmann, the state secretary for Berlin, said that he could not entirely rule out such a measure in, as English language news source 20 Percent Berlin called it, ‘the unlikely event that the natural gas supply is interrupted, meaning no heating for many, Berliners could decide to turn on their electric space heaters’.

Akmann said, according to Berliner Zeitung: “In order to protect the power grid infrastructure, grid operators would then ensure the overall stability of the grids with rolling shutdowns – ie regionally and temporarily – and prevent damage to the grid infrastructure.”

The fear, according to both Berliner Zeitung and 20 Percent Berlin, is that Germans may turn to electric heating methods if gas supplies are cut, leading to an overload of the system.

While this sounds apocalyptic, Akmann told the paper that the gas supply in Germany is currently stable, while electricity supply in Berlin is ‘very high’. However, he did say that the situation is tense and that a deterioration cannot be ruled out.

Germany has been dealing with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago by moving as slow as marmalade uphill against a gale.

Back in April, Christian Lindner, the finance minister in chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet, told the BBC that the country was moving as ‘fast as possible’ to wean itself off Russian energy, but that it would take time. The BBC said that this contrasted with foreign minister Annalena Baerbock saying that Germany would end oil imports by the end of 2022, followed by gas imports.

But now, as winter approaches, Scholz is having to manage the country’s reliance on Russian energy supplies with castigating the warmongering state for its actions in Ukraine. The problem is that it is near-impossible to win a race while riding two horses.

Scholz, reported Deutsche Welle, told the UN General Assembly this week that Russia’s mission to usurp the legitimate Ukrainian government was an act born of ‘imperialism’. He also reiterated that Germany would continue to support Ukraine financially, humanitarianly, and economically.

Brave words, but the realpolitik of all this will be interesting, especially as Russia has started to mobilise its reserve troops to prop up a dying effort. Putin must be in a bad place if he is choosing to send in his own untrained, unfit population.

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