Germany: Electricity Rationing Has Begun for Rail Freight, Amid Calls for Nuclear Power

On March 23, Deutsche Bahn (DB) was forced to halt transport of rail freight for several hours, because the supply of electricity — the company manages its own power stations — had collapsed to such an extent that there was no capacity available to operate non-passenger trains. Logistics firms that manage rail freight had received no pre-warning, and their association is demanding an investigation of the case.As pointed out by the Manager of the association of freight companies NEE, Peter Westenberger, “freight transport is systemically relevant” for the industrial nation and for supplying the population”.

The near-blackout, apparently caused by lack of supply from solar and wind sources, should wake people up to the reality of the energy shortages on a broad scale that are to be expected from the “green dreams” of the German government. Indeed, Deutsche Bahn Energie, DB’s company in charge of power supplies, has been investing a lot in “green” power sources, under the illusion that rail transport has a future based on “renewables”“

There have been plenty of warnings from experts that the renewables strategy will lead straight to disaster, but the governments have not listened to them. The German Federal Network Agency has already held talks with representatives of industry and the energy sector on crisis preparations for the event of a gas supply crisis, including potential and unavoidable industry shutdowns.

The prospect of energy rationing, enhanced by the threat of a complete cut-off of Russian natural gas, has mobilized supporters of nuclear power to go public with calls to stop and even revert the government strategy based on a total exit from that source. The day after the DB disaster, the Bild provided a platform for such calls, writing that “After France, the Netherlands and Belgium, the British also want to produce more nuclear power. Specifically, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to build six new reactors! The reason: greater independence from natural gas! And Germany? It will shut down its last three reactors at the end of 2022!”

According to the German tabloid, the industry association KernD (formerly the German Nuclear Forum) has already offered the government to continue operating those three power plants. Prof. Jörg Starflinger of the University of Stuttgart is quoted saying those plants “are in good shape and could continue to operate for several years without any problem”.

Within the CDU, the association of SMEs (MIT) is demanding that the three reactors shut down at the end of 2021 be brought back online, and that the operating lives of the three active reactors be extended by up to 10 years. Markus Söder, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, which hosts one of those three remaining , told Bild: “‘Germany must not shut down without thinking. Without nuclear power, it will be cold and expensive next winter. We still need nuclear power as a bridge for at least three years.”

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