Europe braces for extreme heat as power infrastructure fails

A new scorching heat wave is expected to hit northwestern and central Europe this week, putting further pressure on the continent’s electrical infrastructure.

Scorching temperatures are expected in the UK, Germany and France, reaching nearly 36 degrees Celsius on Friday, according to Maxar Technologies LLC. The heat will increase demand for cooling, aggravating already dry conditions that are damaging crops and forcing limits on water use. Extreme heat has already taken its toll on the continent, with France recording the driest July on record and England the driest in almost 90 years, underscoring the impact of global warming on vital infrastructure. The water levels of the Rhine, a vital artery for the transport of goods and industrial products, are so low that trade is at risk of stopping in certain sections of the waterway.

The conditions climate it sparked fires near London, prompted warnings that rail lines could kink, and forced power stations to operate at low levels to prevent overheating. In France, regulators have granted EDF a temporary exemption allowing five nuclear power plants to dump hot water into rivers, which could violate environmental standards as the country grapples with an energy crisis.

Although temperatures are unlikely to reach record highs seen in July, the heat wave comes amid a historic energy supply crisis as Russia tightens its control over natural gas flows to the region. The crisis has contributed to rising inflation, threatening to push some of Europe’s largest economies into recession. Electricity prices in Germany and France have reached record highs in recent days.

Dennis Alvarado

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