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Power Strain in Baden-Württemberg: Net Operator Offers Blackout Advice a Day After Urging to Save Electricity

A news on Monday morning stirred commotion in Baden-Württemberg: The net operator TransnetBW issued a call to save electricity. From 6 to 2 PM, minimal consumption was advised. Fears of a potential blackout resurfaced. But is the apprehension justified?

A glance at the social networks reveals that people in the region are still unsettled after the recent power shortages. A user (formerly on Twitter) writes: “The fact that TransnetBW is at its limit is unfortunately a reality. Hence, it should be understandable that people are worried.”

Another opines: “Baden-Württemberg – an industrial powerhouse – is facing a blackout.” Another user writes: “Baden-Württemberg on the brink of a blackout. Germany is on its way to becoming a developing country.” Many users also express their animosity towards the Greens, the energy transition, or climate activists.

Power Shortage in Baden-Württemberg: Net Operator Releases Blackout FAQ

For some, the latest headline at the top of the net operator TransnetBW’s website is also not reassuring. Under the heading “Why the lights won’t simply go out this winter,” customers will find an FAQ that addresses all questions regarding a blackout.

In conjunction with the current power consumption in Baden-Württemberg, also available on the net operator’s homepage, this could once again stoke fears of a blackout in southwest Germany. While at 7:30 AM the total power generation in Baden-Württemberg was at 4094 megawatts, the regional load at the same time was more than double: 9380 megawatts.

The FAQ states: “Many people are apprehensive about our power supply.” This is understandable in the face of the rapidly changing energy landscape. However, with regard to the security of the power supply, no one should “worry too much.”

Such concerns were last triggered in the winter of 2022/23 by the act of aggression by Russia against Ukraine and the resultant gas shortage. However, a blackout, defined as “an uncontrolled, widespread, and prolonged power outage,” is not expected.

Because: “The transmission system operators consider a blackout to be very unlikely. They have many ways to keep the power grid stable. And if all else fails, they will instruct the distribution system operators to temporarily cut off the power – completely controlled, only for a few hours, and regionally limited.”

Tips from the Net Operator: “Be Prepared for a Few Hours Without Electricity”

Such a scenario is called “brownout,” TransnetBW continues. It means “the power is alternately switched off in small districts, usually nowhere for longer than 90 minutes at a stretch.”

Although the German power grid is one of the safest in the world, experts emphasize. “Nevertheless, it can never be ruled out that a series of unfavorable circumstances could lead to a brownout,” the FAQ states. The brownout risk has increased in recent times, but it is still very low.

And finally, the advice for everyone: “In fact, no one needs to do more than what has always been advisable: be prepared for a few hours without electricity.”

The website is a response to the blackout debate, which was very prominent in the media last winter and “unnecessarily” unsettled large parts of the population, said a spokesperson from TransnetBW in response to FOCUS online’s inquiry.

At the network operator itself, there were “fewer customer inquiries” on Monday, according to the spokesperson. The app users have now “learned” the process. This is also evident from the feedback function of the StromGedacht app: “With one click, it is possible to signal that you will participate and shift your electricity consumption according to the app to a later period.” 14,000 users have participated. “That’s twice as many as in the last activation in September,” said the spokesperson.

Has Baden-Württemberg just narrowly avoided a blackout?

Even then, it was said that the transmission capacities of the lines from the north of the republic were fully utilized. And as early as December 2022, the network operator via the app announced, “An tense situation in the power grid is predicted. Shift your electricity consumption earlier in order to consume as little electricity as possible during that period.”

But since last winter, TransnetBW has been actively working to reassure people. The FAQ also contributes to this, according to the spokesperson.

And as in previous years, nothing has happened on Monday, the “blackout” did not occur. However, the repeated calls for electricity saving in southwestern Germany are due to both the delayed network expansion in recent years and a power plant strategy that is still pending.

It is now known that the existing power lines from northern Germany to Baden-Württemberg are no longer sufficient due to the increasing power demand. Against this background, construction of “Suedlink” began in September 2023, a new power line that is intended to transport electricity from the wind farms in the north to the south of the country. The goal is to efficiently supply Baden-Württemberg with electricity from northern German wind farms. Completion is planned for the end of 2028.

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