(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s largest power-grid operator said that the country may have to restrict electricity exports this winter as a last resort to avoid blackouts.

Amprion GmbH said such a measure would be an “ultima ratio” in a critical grid situation, as Europe’s biggest economy faces possible gas rationing amid the continent’s worst energy crisis in decades. Cutting exports could affect neighboring countries such as France and Austria -- the biggest buyers of German power last year.

Germany is especially vulnerable to the surge in energy costs triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine due to a heavy reliance on imported gas. To tackle the crisis, it’s extending operations at two lignite-fired power units until the end of next winter. It has also postponed its nuclear phase out, blaming shutdowns in France that has cut reactor availability there to below 50%. 

“We see a tense supply situation for the coming winter,” an Amprion spokeswoman said by email. “When other measures have not been sufficiently effective, both electricity exports can be restricted or targeted loads can be controlled and temporarily shut down to maintain grid security.”

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Amprion said such measures would be used “as restrictively as possible,” and that it’s hard to make reliable forecasts because of “many imponderables,” such as the weather.

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