German Energy Crunch Increases Fear of Shortages

Germany’s dependence on Russian energy is leading to some of its largest cities preparing for shortages by limiting access to hot water, heating, and electric lights.

Berlin’s municipal government announced that it will turn off lighting for monuments, historical buildings, and other landmarks in the capital city.

Berlin’s senator for the environment Bettina Jarasch said that because of the war against Ukraine and “Russia’s energy threats it is vital that we handle our energy as carefully as possible.”

The large northern German city of Hanover is targeting a 15% reduction in energy consumption in anticipation of lower energy supplies. Between October and March, the city’s municipal buildings will have a heat ceiling of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It has banned mobile air conditioning units and fan drive heaters throughout the city.

Residents will only be allowed to take cold showers at municipal facilities. Hot water will be cut off in public buildings, gyms, and swimming pools.

Hanover Mayor Belit Onay said the conditions coming in winter will be unpredictable. The mayor added that “every kilowatt hour counts, and protecting critical infrastructure has to be a priority.” Onay, who is a member of the Green Party, added that the “looming gas shortages” are due to “Russian aggression on Ukraine.”

Onay said that “every single person in Germany” will have to save as much energy as possible in order for the nation to “get through this winter.” He added that unless everyone acts together, by January the country “will have much bigger problems than lighting or the showers.”

Munich has also announced energy use restrictions. The city will turn off outdoor lighting at municipal facilities and cut off hot water to city offices. Fountains throughout the city will be turned off at night.

Nuremberg has decided to close three of the city’s four municipal indoor swimming pools.

Private residential leasing company Vonovia, Germany’s largest, will be lowering the thermostats in tenant’s units to 62 degrees Farenheit between 11 p.m and 6 a.m.

A housing association in the smaller city of Dippoldiswalde has announced hot water rationing, permitting hot showers only during designated hours.

A municipal district near Frankfurt will be shutting off hot water to 86 school buildings and 60 gyms.

Germany is among the European nations most dependent on reliable delivery of Russian energy. Last year, 34% of Germany’s imported crude oil came from Russia. It got 53% of its coal and 55% of its natural gas from Russian sources.

Russia’s largest gas export firm Gazprom PJSC said last week that it plans to limit natural gas shipped to Germany through the original Nord Stream pipeline to 20% of capacity.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February shows no signs of ending before winter or anytime in the foreseeable future.