Falling water levels on Rhine River making it difficult for Germany to source coal amid energy crisis
After losing access
to Russian gas due to its own sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, Germany is now scrambling to try to produce its own energy with coal. This is proving difficult
, however, as Rhine River levels continue to drop, leaving Germany with nothing but the coming prospect of a very cold and dark winter.
According to reports, Germany is finding it increasingly difficult to source coal now that the Rhine River is at its lowest level since 2007 for this time of year. The Rhine, by the way, handles "an enormous amount of supplies for Europe," one report explains, "including fuel and coal."
The global supply chain is already in shambles, and now this: a main transportation route that is no longer as usable as it once was. Coupled with bottlenecked rail, spiking diesel prices and prolific supply shortages, the German economy is now on its last legs
Two German power plants in particular – one in Mannheim and the other in Karlsruhe – no longer have enough coal to operate. Normally, these two plants would receive coal via the Rhine, but that is no longer possible, we are told.
In the coming months, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights, Germany will only be able to access about 65 percent of its coal supply due to these and other transportation issues.
The Rhine might have been Germany's last shot at surviving
A few key chokepoints on the Rhine are seeing even sharper declines in the transportation of commodities as barges are no longer able to get through them without becoming lodged or wrecking.
Until water levels return to where they should be – and that may not happen before the upcoming winter season – the Rhine will become largely unusable. This is the last
thing Germany needs right now in order to survive everything else it currently faces.
"The level of difficulty also means that barge operators charge higher rates for cargo owners, suggesting further increased prices for consumers for oil products, grain, and other commodities shipped on the Rhine," one report explains.
"Overall, the Rhine has become an even more important transit route for commodities in Germany and Switzerland since Russia invaded Ukraine in February."
Had Germany taken a much different approach to Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine, all of this likely could have been avoided. The European powerhouse refused to play ball, though, and now it is paying a huge – and likely irreversible – price.
"Germany seems to have lost its direction in energy policies," wrote a commenter at OilPrice.com. "It wanted to project itself as the greenest country in Europe so under pressure from the Green parties and environmental activists it decided to de-commission its nuclear and also end the use of coal-powered electricity plants at a later date."
"German-led EU (European Union) followed hasty policies to accelerate energy transition at the expense of fossil fuels and decided to end long-term contracts for the supply of gas preferring to buy its needs in the spot market which is at best unreliable."
This same commenter went on to explain that the short-sightedness of Germany politicians, coupled with their lust for a total green conversion, is creating the largest energy crisis for Germany and Europe at large "since the end of World War II."
Mind you, there was already a problem before
Vladimir Putin decided to pull the trigger on Ukraine. The invasion only amplified what was already snowballing into a death knell for Germany and the European Union – and it is only a matter of time until it culminates into a final death blow for what was once one of the most prosperous areas of the world.
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Sources for this article include: