The energy problem in Europe is getting bigger, as the levels of the big rivers are dropping dramatically. Danube, Rhine and Ligira begin to dry up.
Europe’s worst drought in years has dropped the Danube River to one of its lowest levels in a century, with the remains of dozens of German warships sunk near the town of Prahovo emerging from the water. during World War II.
The ships, packed with explosives, were among hundreds sunk in the Danube in 1944 as the German Black Sea Fleet retreated in the face of advancing Soviet forces. To this day, shipwrecks still impede navigation on the river when the water level drops.
This year’s drought, which scientists say is a consequence of global warming, has brought back to light more than 20 skeletons of these ships in a stretch of the Danube in eastern Serbia.
Some of these ships contain tons of ammunition and explosives and are considered a danger to navigation.
“The German flotilla left behind an ecological disaster that threatens us, the residents of Prahovo,” commented 74-year-old Velimir Trailovic, a retired resident of the town who has written a book about the ships.
Workers in the local fishing industry are also at risk.
The months-long drought and high temperatures are causing river levels to drop in other parts of Europe as well, such as in Germany, Italy and France.
In Serbia, authorities resorted to dredging to keep navigation lanes open on the Danube. In the area of Prahovo, due to sunken warships, the navigable section of the Danube has been reduced to 100 meters, from 180 before.
In March, the Serbian government announced a tender to clean up the river and remove ammunition and explosives. The cost is estimated to reach 29 million euros.
Problems in Germany too – The level of the Rhine is falling
Current water levels in the Rhine River, an important inland transit artery throughout Germany, are extremely low and have rendered some parts of the river impassable for barges.
Falling waters have already disrupted the flow of goods and exacerbated Europe’s tight energy supply
The alarming water shortage is contributing to a possible shock to oil supplies at Germany’s largest oil processing complex located on the banks of the Rhine, which is operated by Shell Plc.
Shell cuts transport
“Due to the low water level of the Rhine, we have reduced the capacity of the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rhineland. The supply situation is difficult but is being carefully managed,” the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters. Shell did not disclose how much production it cut at the refinery, which makes fuel, heating oil and petrochemicals.
The waterway is blocked
Shell’s production cuts highlight the severity of falling water levels in the waterway, compounding the energy crisis due to Europe’s sanctions on Russia. After all, it is known that the drop in the water level in the Rhine would make things worse for the largest economy in Europe. Crude supplies are running low across the country.
Austrian oil and gas company OMV AG warned two weeks ago that Germany faced a diesel and heating fuel problem. Of course, the water level of the Rhine is expected to rise to 67 centimeters by August, according to German government data. Also, a fleet of crude oil tankers carrying diesel is heading to Europe.
Nightmare in France too
The Loire River, France’s largest, may generally be shallow, but this year even shallow-keeled riverboats can barely navigate its waters, which have plummeted due to unprecedented drought.
Even some 100 kilometers from the river’s mouth in the Atlantic, its sandy banks now stretch as far as the eye can see, and large islets connect the two sides of the Loire, and in some places people can walk from one bank to the other. another!
Concern over the operation of nuclear plants along the Loire River
The river’s flow now hovers at about 40 cubic meters per second, less than one-twentieth of the annual average.
And it would have been even lower if the authorities had not released volumes of water from the Nosac and Villerest dams, built in the 1980s, in part to ensure a supply of cold water to cool four nuclear power plants along the Loire , producing a total of some 11.6 gigawatts, or about a fifth of France’s total electricity production.
Already many factories of the country’s electricity company, EDF, have been put out of operation for technical reasons and others are operating at reduced efficiency due to low river levels.
If another one or more of the Loire plants closes, electricity prices in Europe may rise even more.
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