• Germany is worried about a coal shortage as it looks for alternatives to Russian gas for power generation.
  • Low water levels on the Rhine are hitting shipping of coal, per a government document seen by Reuters.
  • Europe is scrambling to secure energy supplies after Russia choked off imports of its gas.

Germany is getting worried about a coal shortage this winter, as it scrambles to replace Russian gas for power generation in a worsening energy crisis.

The water in Germany's Rhine river has dropped to crisis levels amid record-breaking summer heatwaves, and that has officials concerned about whether ships will be able to carry coal to power plants, according to a document seen by Reuters.

"Due to very reduced domestic shipping, accumulated coal stocks could quickly fall," Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action said in the document, according to a Reuters report Wednesday.

The Rhine is crucial in Europe for the transportation of cargoes such as coal, chemicals, and grains. That's true for Germany in particular, and the country's main industry lobby group warned earlier in August that factories might have to halt or cut back on production because of the shipping issues.

Europe is facing a crippling energy crisis, and Germany has been caught in the eye of the storm as Russia slashes supply of natural gas to the region. Moscow is seen as ready to keep choking off gas exports in what's seen as retaliation for Western sanctions over Ukraine.

Like other countries in the region, Germany has sought out alternative fuels such as coal to secure power supply before winter, with its high energy needs. Its energy giant Uniper said Monday it will temporarily revive a mothballed coal-fueled power plant to generate electricity starting next week.

But the Rhine logistics problem means additional coal storage sites in southern Germany will probably not be filled by winter, according to the German government document.

At the same time, persistent bottlenecks mean the country's rail network won't be able to pick up the slack, it said. Government ministers on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to a measure to make energy cargoes a priority on trains.

With Germany's energy squeeze comes a heavy impact on its economy. The country's central bank chief said inflation could hit a 70-year-high of 10% as Russia chokes off supply to the region. 

Read the original article on Business Insider