Blackout provision is being stepped up in Austria

Blackout provision is being stepped up in Austria
Blackout provision is being stepped up in Austria

27. September 2021

The precautions against a “blackout” in the power supply in Austria are being stepped up. To this end, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) and the board of the high-voltage network operator APG signed a cooperation agreement on Monday. The police can be warned one or two hours earlier. Simulations show that APG can restore the supply within a maximum of 20 to 30 hours. However, renewables are making the electricity system more and more fragile.

“We are discussing the expansion of generation, but neglecting the overall system”, complained the technical director of the Austrian Power Grid (APG), Gerhard Christiner, in front of journalists with a view to wind power and photovoltaics. To stabilize the network, APG has again concluded contracts with gas-fired power plants so that power can be called up when required. This year one had to intervene 160 times to stabilize the grid.

According to Christiner, experience shows that, in the best case scenario, a blackout can be mastered after about ten hours, and according to the simulations that are run through, the supply will run again after a maximum of 20 to 30 hours. The probability of a blackout is very difficult to name – Major General Peter Skorsch from the Interior Department, who is responsible for technical equipment, spoke of a “look into the crystal ball”.

It is important to be able to react as quickly as possible if necessary, as happened on January 8, said Christiner. At that time, due to problems in Croatia near the border with Hungary, the European power grid was briefly divided into two regions. Immediately after this event, steps were initiated to keep the “chaos phase” as short as possible in the event of a blackout, said Skorsch. July 24th, when there were power outages in Spain, Portugal and parts of France, also shows that security cannot be taken for granted, said Christiner.

According to Nehammer, in the event of a blackout, the police can maintain full operational readiness for 72 hours, i.e. for three days, and guarantee security in Austria for a further seven days. 100 police locations are now to be expanded into resilient – i.e. sustainable – locations, including the Ministry of the Interior itself and important centers such as the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the State Security and Intelligence Service (DSN), the Cobra, the state police departments and the district police commanders.

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