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With Winter Looming, Germans are Panic Buying Electric Space Heaters

Victor resides in the Netherlands and writes about freedom and governmental and social changes to the democratic form of nations.
Published: September 16, 2022
Germans are panic buying electric space heaters in the European energy crisis.
Some 600,000 electric heaters were sold in Germany in the first six months of 2022, a 35 percent increase from last year. German consumers are preparing for a possible energy crisis this winter with fears of an interruption in natural gas delivery from Russia. (Image: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Germans are prepping for a chilly winter while purchasing hundreds of thousands of electric heaters this year, but experts warn the power grid could collapse under the heavy demand.

Due to Germany’s self-imposed embargo on Russian natural gas, utilities prices have been skyrocketing during the past months and are not expected to come down anytime soon.

Of course, German citizens, unhappy with the bleak prospects of natural gas rationing during the upcoming winter, have turned en masse to purchasing some 600,000 electric space heating appliances, an uptick of almost 35 percent from the previous year, Reuters reported based on data provided by market researcher GfK. 

READ MORE ABOUT GERMANY, ENERGY CRISES, AND THE SMART GRID

However, such a dramatic increase in electricity use may overburden the country’s power grid and lead to electricity rationing and blackouts, specialists warn. 

Last month, Peter Lautz, director of the Stadtwerke Wiesbaden Netz, a utility company that serves 170,000 households, already sounded the alarm that Germany’s power grid might not be able to meet the increased energy demand. 

“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,” Lautz told German media outlet ZDF.

Moreover, as Lautz figured, if only half of Germany’s 20 million households that heat on gas would turn on their electric fan heater on a chilly winter day, that would amount to an extra 20 gigawatts of power demand, which could lead to even higher prices.

Energy prices are soaring in Europe and are expected to keep going up, especially in Germany, which has depended for the greater part on imports from Russia, a major problem now that the Russians are closing the Nord Stream pipeline in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by the west because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Heading for demand destruction

Meanwhile, experts like Charif Souki, Chairman of liquid gas producing company Tellurian warn that the prices for natural gas could stabilize at rates equivalent to $120 to $150 per barrel of oil.

 “We’re short on energy sources in general,” Souki told Bloomberg TV. “So at some point, you’re going to find that oil, coal, gas, and renewables are going to settle around a certain level,” he said. 

“My suspicion is that it’s going to $120 to $150 per barrel equivalent for all of these commodities.”

Furthermore, Souki forewarned that prices stabilizing at such a high level for an extended time could lead to plummeting demand, or “demand destruction,” due to the fact that people simply can no longer afford to buy gas, meaning they will be freezing their buttocks off during the coming winter.

Meanwhile, Martin Kleimaier from the Association of Electrical Engineering (VDE) warned that power cuts could impact not only private households but also infrastructure, cash payment systems, mobile phone networks, and street lighting, Remix reported.

But instead of lifting the sanctions on Russia or investing in readily available, cheap, and sustainable alternatives like hydrogen or thorium, German authorities persist in their policy to punish Russia even at the cost of its citizens, who in turn get the blame for their large carbon footprint.

Smart grid

The imminent power grid crisis brings to mind the government that keeps pushing for electric cars — which are by no means more green or more sustainable than combustion-driven cars — and also severely overburden the electric grid.

Officials are trying to cope with possible blackouts by advocating for a smart digital electricity grid, which would allow for an even spread of the power burden on all nodes of the network by turning down or switching off certain users altogether.

And, of course, officials have argued smart meters could play a significant role in evenly “regulating” the power consumption spread over the net, with the possibility of turning off all-too-enthusiast energy consumers’ accounts if they fail to stay within the line.

However, on the positive side: When it comes to power cuts, the government has thus far claimed it will come for small companies and entrepreneurs first, who will be squeezed out of business altogether, while private households will probably stay on the energy rationing leash provided that they be good citizens and don’t exceed their carbon exhaustion limits.