Are Blackouts in Germany Likely?
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine shook the world, and the circumstances of Germany’s energy supply have changed. This uncertainty has given rise to fears of a blackout due to an energy shortage: are blackouts in Germany likely?
This impulse paper addresses these concerns and looks to the future. The ESYS experts summarize: not every power outage is a blackout and temporary interruptions to the electricity supply do not necessarily mean the catastrophic consequences some people are currently envisaging. It is important to distinguish between terms here in order to avoid spreading panic. The experts consider a blackout due to energy shortages unlikely, since the energy system as a whole is very secure: grid operators have various instruments at their disposal to maintain control over the grid even in difficult circumstances.
However: the energy supply is becoming decentralized and increasingly digitalized, creating new opportunities but also new risks. The experts consider addressing these risks now to be central to future energy security. To this end, they identify four fields of action.
- Very few power outages are blackouts. It is important to make this distinction in order to make realistic assessments of events and their consequences.
- There is currently no need to fear a blackout due to energy deficits, since there are strong and sophisticated safeguards.
- These mechanisms may mean temporary interruptions to energy supplies, but usually only affect large-scale industrial consumers and hence do not entail the catastrophic consequences for society that are occasionally feared.
- With the advancement of the energy transition, the energy supply is becoming decentralized and increasingly digitalized. This offers opportunities for energy supply security.
- New risks can also arise, however. It is necessary to address them now for future supply security.
acatech/Leopoldina/Akademienunion (Eds.): “Are Blackouts in Germany Likely? (Discussion Paper)”, Academies’ Project “Energy Systems of the Future” (ESYS), 2023.
This discussion paper is essentially based on the results of the position paper: “The resilience of digitalised energy systems. Options for reducing blackout risks”