The management of the Frankfurt energy supplier Süwag believes that power outages in the districts of Höchst, Unterliederbach, Sossenheim and Nied are again possible in the next few days.

There is a "significantly greater risk that something like this will happen again," admitted Andreas Berg, the technical director of the network subsidiary Syna, on Wednesday.

However, he hopes that the situation can stabilize by the weekend.

Manfred Koehler

Deputy head of the regional section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and editor in charge of the business magazine Metropol.

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Jochen Remmert

Airport editor and correspondent Rhein-Main-Süd.

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On Tuesday, according to the Süwag, there was a power outage in the above-mentioned districts at 5:18 p.m. The energy supplier gives the number of households affected at 11,000. Half of them could be supplied again after four hours, at 1:10 a.m. all households were back on the grid. From the Süwag it was said that in the Höchst substation next to the headquarters of the group on Brüningstrasse there had been a fault in a voltage converter, a device the size of a shoebox. The large-scale power outage occurred because the heat developed in the device destroyed cables and other components in its vicinity. There was talk of literally burned out cables on Wednesday. Because of the smoke, the fire brigade moved in and the company headquarters was evacuated.

The 37-year-old substation is currently being modernized to meet the growing demand for electricity, especially from data centers, it said on Wednesday.

The work should continue into next year.

There is no connection with a fire in the same substation a year ago;

at the time it was a faulty circuit, this time a material defect.

"We want to see how the overall stability of the system can be increased," said Markus Coenen, member of the Süwag board.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that this does not happen again.” The fire in November 2020 led to a six-hour power outage in 20,000 households during the day.

Power failure also in Offenbach

There was also a power failure in Offenbach on Tuesday, affecting the eastern city center. As the Offenbach energy network announced, the disruption occurred at 8.27 p.m. As a result, traffic lights at some intersections also failed, as did the street lighting. According to the information, however, the supply could be restored in less than an hour. At first, the company was unable to name a cause.

Most recently, the power went out repeatedly in the region.

In January 2020, large parts of Langens had to do without electricity for two and a half hours.

In July of this year, the supply in half of Offenbach's city center was interrupted for 20 minutes. In mid-September, 20,000 people in Wiesbaden had no electrical power for five hours.

According to the information provided by the respective network operator, the reasons for these and older failures were varied: once there was a short circuit in a distribution station, then there was a cable fire or a lightning strike.

In Griesheim in the Darmstadt-Dieburg district a few years ago a farmer cut an important cable while working in the field.

Power failures do not increase

However, the impression that power outages are increasing is deceptive. According to the Federal Network Agency, electricity customers in Germany suffered an average downtime of eleven minutes last year. Although this value fluctuates somewhat from year to year, it has been falling overall for a decade and a half. In 2006, when this data was collected for the first time, customers still had to accept failures of 22 minutes, a number that has never been reached since then. In Hesse it was only nine minutes in 2020, two minutes less than in Germany as a whole. However, only failures lasting longer than three minutes are recorded.

The warnings of failures on a much larger scale than before still continue.

In a study published in September, the investment bank Goldman Sachs referred to delivery problems on the gas market, which in extreme cases could also result in power outages.

In addition, the power supply is more difficult to control than it used to be, because wind and sun deliver unevenly, as it were.

Here, however, the Federal Network Agency recently gave the all-clear;

the energy transition and the increasing proportion of decentralized generation capacity would continue to have no negative effects on the quality of supply, it said.