EXPLAINED: How German cities are preparing for potential blackouts :

Gas shortages and problems with nuclear power plants in France are raising fears about potential power outages across Germany this winter. Here’s how some cities are responding .

How likely is a blackout in Germany?

Expert opinion currently varies widely on the likelihood of Germany being hit by wide-ranging blackouts, but most agree that some power outages are likely given the energy crisis. In the UK the national electricity operator is already telling households to prepare for blackouts on “really cold days” if gas imports are reduced.

The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) has said that, even though Germany has a very secure power supply, the danger of a large-scale and long-lasting power blackout “cannot be completely ruled out”.

Herbert Saurugg, a former major in the Austrian Armed Forces and blackout expert, recently told German broadcaster Tagesschau that there is a real danger of widespread power outages in Germany and Europe this winter and that the current threat is underestimated.

Though not directly addressing the issue of blackouts, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week that the government has made good provisions for the coming “winter of challenges”. He said that keeping two nuclear power plants online would help ensure “that there will never be a shortage of electricity in Germany”.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has also recently said: “We have a very high level of supply security in the electricity system in Germany”.

Are German cities already preparing for blackouts?

According to a recent report in Handelsblatt, most major cities in Germany now hold weekly meetings between politicians, emergency services and grid operators to draw up action plans for what to do in the event of power outages.

A spokesperson for the city of Munich recently told Focus.de that the Bavarian capital has been “preparing for months for possible energy bottlenecks in the coming winter,” and the Energy department of the city’s Staff for Extraordinary Events (SAE) has been drafting plans to deal with such a crisis.

precautionary and safety concepts in place that are “continuously improving”.

What type of measures are cities preparing?

One measure that many cities have been putting in place is setting up special meeting points for their citizens in case of power outages. In Düsseldorf, for example, a blackout will trigger a “coordinated operational plan for accommodating a large number of people over a period of several days” which, if necessary, will deploy the city’s fire department and aid organisations to evacuate vulnerable people to support centres where they can be cared for and fed over several days.

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