Dortmund is one of the biggest cities in the Ruhr area, Source: Depositphotos

53 Ruhr municipalities publish advice in the event of a blackout this winter

53 Ruhr municipalities publish advice in the event of a blackout this winter

The Ruhr area is one of the most gas-dependent in Germany and according to a Federal stress test, energy shortages could lead to serious problems

Last week, municipalities in the Ruhr area in Germany joined together in a new campaign called #besserbereit (betterready) to provide information for crisis prevention during this winter’s expected energy crisis. There are 53 municipalities taking part in the campaign, from Duisburg to Dortmund, and from Xanten to Breckerfeld.

They have set up a joint informational authority to help disseminate some of the risks, research and tips for businesses and households throughout the region. The Ruhr, on the other hand, is one of Germany’s most populous regions, as well as the historic industrial heartland.

The risk of an energy shortage

According to a statement by the #besserbereit information platform, millions of households are heated exclusively with gas, which will definitely feel the pressure if the country is faced with a severe gas shortage.

At the same time, authorities are quick to point out that as of 1 November, Germany’s gas reserves should be at around 95%, which is well above the threshold authorities set out in the summer. However, in order to guarantee a stable supply of energy, Besserbereit state that on 1 February 2023, the government needs to have at least 40% of the gas reserves full.

This is because natural gas makes up 30% of the energy mix in Germany and that number goes up significantly in winter because of district heating.

The worst-case scenario

The Ruhr region is under heavy pressure to save energy because a number of industries are very gas dependent and in the event of an energy shortage, they risk heavy shutdowns. In 2019, the federal government, along with state authorities rehearsed a scenario of a gas emergency.

According to the final report of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, even customers who are particularly protected by law cannot be sure that the gas guarantee can be maintained.

In the event of blackouts and outages, industries may be forced to shut down, leaving people without stable employment, hospitals could be forced to move patients and schools will have to close. Large dairy and bread factories, as well as farming, would feel the squeeze, leading to an issue with food.

Additionally, unreliable supply of district heating and uneven electric supply would force people to bring back hard fuel stoves of electric heaters. In the first case, this would raise the risk of house fires, while in the second, to an overload of the energy grid, forcing even more shutdowns.  

Keeping in mind that this is the worst-case scenario, here is a list provided by the Besserbereit of systems that will be affected by a blackout, showing the electricity dependency:

  • Loss of telecommunication systems - no phone, no internet;
  • Stoppage of the drinking water supply;
  • Failure of refrigeration systems, food spoilage;
  • No functioning checkout systems, freezers and entrance doors in supermarkets, shops could remain closed;
  • Downed ATMs and electronic payment systems;
  • No pumps at gas stations, no fuel;
  • Failure of all public transport;
  • Failure of street lighting and traffic light systems;
  • Failure of ventilation in tunnels;
  • Traffic standstill;
  • Broken supply chains;
  • Failure of important IT systems;
  • Impairment of the health system.

How to prepare in the case of a gas emergency

Although projections for the winter may seem grim, municipalities in the Ruhr area want to reassure citizens, as well as help to prepare them in the event of a gas emergency. In their informational material, they recommend households make a reaction plan in case there is a shortage.

First of all, if houses have a working fireplace or stove for heating in addition to the district heating system, they can keep a small supply of firewood or briquettes. Additionally, if the system is not in regular use, they should make sure that it is safe and working properly, i.e. no clogged chimneys and etc.

Households should also think about how they can cook food without a stove. Also, authorities recommend people have a pre-made emergency supply package with a flashlight, batteries, candles, blankets, drinking water for ten days, medicine and food for ten days.

This package also includes charged power banks and an emergency supply of cash, since ATMs would be out during a blackout.

In the event of a blackout during winter, Besserbereit recommends that people, first and foremost stay calm. If they have a fireplace or stove, they should use it. In order to use the source optimally, the whole family should stay in one room, keeping doors and windows closed.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU