Crisis management for large-area power blackouts – the example of Baden-Württemberg


The power blackouts in the United States in 2003 and the outage event 2005 in North-Western Germany have shown that even in highly developed and industrialised countries large area power blackout can occur due to several reasons. However, reliable electricity supply is important for the functioning of a modern society. Thus, power supply is one of the so called critical infrastructures (CI). Due to the complex structure of the supply system and interdependencies with many other critical infrastructures, failures in and interruptions of the power supply networks may cause (cascading) impacts in households, administration and industry.

In industrial companies especially long lasting power outages may cause considerable economic impacts, since blackout induced business interruptions can propagate through complex and often globally interlaced supply chains.

Recent power blackouts and crisis management exercises with outage scenarios showed that in order to reduce the impacts of power blackouts an integrated and well structured crisis management is necessary. Here, the cooperation of public authorities and private institutions (e.g. industrial companies, private healthcare facilities) plays an important role. Due to the different structures of these institutions especially the structured exchange of information and a smooth communication constitute challenging tasks.


Main aim of the project was the development of a crisis management handbook which supports strategic as well as operational decision making. Potential users of this handbook are for example public authorities, operators of critical infrastructures, industrial companies and other affected institutions. The handbook contains background information, detailed impact analysis and checklists for coping measures in four social sectors (healthcare, industry, supply and disposal, communication).

Results of the 2004 national crisis management exercise LÜKEX (“Länderübergreifende Krisenmanagement Übung”) have been the starting point of the handbook development, since the exercise showed the main impacts of power blackouts and pointed out major weaknesses. Furthermore the exercise revealed the potential for improvement regarding the cooperation of the different stakeholders involved in the crisis management process in the event of power blackouts.

The crisis management handbook has been edited by the Ministry of the Interior in Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK). A short version of the handbook is provided by BBK.

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