Fears rise in German industries as Rhine River evaporates

A German business group has said chemical and steel industries could soon be forced to switch off as low river levels makes it hard to transport cargo

Big Zero Report 2022

Critical industries in Germany could soon be forced to shut down as the prolonged dry period has plunged water levels on the Rhine River.

Holger Lösch, Deputy Director General of business lobby group BDI, said: “The persistent dry period and the low water threaten the security of supply for the industry.

Companies are preparing for the worst. The already tense economic situation in the companies is getting worse.”

Many coal power stations and manufacturers rely on the Rhine for receiving raw materials.

Last week, a Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration spokesperson told ELN: “Navigation on the Rhine is possible throughout. Ships are currently travelling with less than half the usual cargo volumes.

“The water depth on the Rhine is currently approximately 25 centimetres higher compared to the lowest water level in 2018.”

Mr Lösch added: “Barges are running at minimal capacity. Switching from inland waterways to rail and road will be difficult this summer due to the bottlenecks on the rails, the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of drivers.

“It is only a matter of time before plants in the chemical or steel industry are shut down, mineral oils and building materials do not reach their destination or large and heavy transports can no longer be carried out.”

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