Germany is set to face power outages and a widespread collapse of its electrical grid this winter due to a surge in purchases of electric heaters, which were prompted by fears of a potential gas supply shortage.
The power supply has been hard hit by Germany's dependence on Russian resources as well as its move to green energy, which is not yet capable of sustaining the country's energy demands.
Germans, who previously turned to firewood and stoves, are now turning to electric heaters as a backup to keep from freezing when winter arrives later this year.
According to Stadtwerke Wiesbaden Netz utility company chief Peter Lautz, who spoke to public broadcaster ZDF, the increased use of electric heaters would place a tremendous strain on Germany’s already-fragile power grid.
On average, electric heaters use anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 watts of electricity. Having multiple units plugged in and turned on at the same time when temperatures drop could overload the grid and stretch it far beyond capacity.
“If everyone switched on a fan heater at home, it would mean that we would have to almost double the existing network structure on every street,” said Lautz, according to Remix News.
As detailed by the publication, 600,000 electric heaters were sold in the first half of 2022, marking a 35 per cent increase on the yearly average. The figure is expected to surge in the coming months as winter approaches and Germany does not have any substitutes for gas following sanctions on Russia.
Twenty million German homes are currently dependent on gas. They are expected to switch to electric heaters in winter.
“Blackouts would not just hit private households but also affect German infrastructure, including cash payment systems, mobile phone networks, and street lighting, said Martin Kleimaier from the Association of Electrical Engineering (VDE). These networks could also be down for long periods of time,” Remix News reported.
One of the solutions proposed by the German government is to install smart meters that can be controlled remotely by power companies to regulate temperature and power distribution to homes to prevent a collapse.
In addition to cutting down on electrical use, citizens have been advised to take fewer showers, wear more layers of clothing, and avoid unnecessary use of electricity to help the country through the winter months.