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Heatwave To Drive Energy Demand Higher In Europe

A heatwave is coming to Germany and large parts of the Alps this weekend, set to raise energy demand for cooling and potentially further lowering the water levels on the Rhine, a major navigable waterway handling coal and oil products.    

German forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst warned earlier this week that a heatwave was expected between Friday and Monday in many places. Even night temperatures will not be too low and residents were told to expect “tropical nights.”

Temperatures in Frankfurt are expected at 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 F, on Sunday, with the Netherlands and southwestern Spain also expected to see heatwaves, per weather forecaster Maxar Technologies Inc quoted by Bloomberg.

Due to the heatwave, power generation demand is expected to jump. If the heatwave leads to lower wind speeds, wind generation in Germany and the Netherlands could also drop, raising demand for natural gas for electricity.  

Another effect of the heatwave would be even lower water levels on the 800-mile-long river Rhine crossing Europe to the North Sea.  

The Rhine handles an enormous amount of supplies for Europe, including fuel and coal.

The levels have already dropped this summer, and the Upper Rhine can handle only half-full barges currently, operator Interstream Barging told Bloomberg earlier this week. Water levels south of Cologne, Germany, are at their lowest for this time of the year in many years, preventing fully loaded barges to pass through a narrower part of the river there.

Last summer, Europe and Germany had similar issues with low levels on the Rhine, which worsened coal supply for German plants just as Russian pipeline gas was being cut off. In July 2022, two German power plants in particular–one in Mannheim and one in Karlsruhe–were lacking sufficient coal supplies for operations. Those supplies would typically be shipped in through the Rhine.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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