Bye Wind, Hello Coal: German Windmills Will Be Taken Down To Give Way To A Coal Mine

Eight wind turbines are about to be dismantled to make way for a planned Garzweiler open-cast pit in Erkelenz to mine coal.

The windmills began functioning in 2001, and their incentives under the Renewable Energy Sources Act have expired. When the wind turbines were installed then, it was understood that the opencast mine would follow, according to the spokesman from German energy firm RWE who operates the mine and the coal-fired power plant in the region.

The first of eight turbines was dismantled last week, added the spokesman as it was further clarified that the dismantling would be based on the progress of the opencast mine.

The wind farm’s operators, according to RWE, are the renewable energy project developers WPD and Energiekontor. When the firm needed the property for coal-fired power generation, the wind turbine operators had previously promised to dismantle the turbines.

The mine is expected to yield lignite, commonly referred to as brown coal.

Source: dpa

What happened to the coal phase-out?

As part of a deal negotiated with the German government, RWE reaffirmed earlier this month that it is bringing forward its coal phase-out and is preparing to terminate lignite-based electricity generation in 2030.

While Berlin set out the one of the most ambitious climate goals, the plans were hampered by the ensuing energy crisis punctuated by the disrupted supply chain caused by the geopolitical war between Russia and Ukraine. Earlier this year, Germany was mulling to restart its coal-fired power plants to conserve its natural gas supplies.

“In the current crisis, we are contributing to security of supply in Germany by temporarily increasing the use of our lignite-fired power plants and are thus also helping to displace gas from electricity generation,” said RWE Chief Executive Markus Krebber in a statement.

The country is caught in a bind as it tries to enact the 2011 resolution by former Chancellor Angela Merkel to make a nuclear exit by the end of 2022, but is starting to reconsider the decision in the face of threats to the stability of the energy supply.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg believes it is irresponsible to shut down Germany’s still operational nuclear power stations and instead rely more on coal power. 

“If we have them [nuclear] already running, I feel it’s a mistake to close them down in order to focus on coal,” the 19-year old activist said in an interview.

Preserving villages

The Lützerath hamlet, located a few hundred meters from the wind turbines, is being lobbied by climate activists to be protected.

“The fact that wind turbines are being demolished in the midst of the climate and energy crisis for the expansion of an open-cast coal mine cannot be surpassed in terms of absurdity,” said representatives from the local initiative “All villages remain”.

Still with its agreement with the German government, RWE maintained that five villages in the area will be preserved at the opencast mine. Original inhabitants of the hamlet have already moved away after selling their lands to RWE as the firm prepares it for energy generation.

While a coal mine replaces a wind farm, RWE seems to be compensating. The firm and the city of Bedburg in North Rhine-Westphalia have expanded their relationship by bringing online a 28.5-MW wind farm.

According to RWE, the US$29.6 million Bedburg A 44n project consists of five turbines located on recultivated ground at the Garzweiler open-cast mine and will be an extension of the existing Koenigshovener Hoehe wind farm. The city of Bedburg owns 49% of the wind farms, while RWE owns 51%.

The wind power project is said to be capable of producing enough power to meet the annual demands of 28,000 families, which exceeds the city’s use.

Information for this briefing was found via ZDF and Renewables Now. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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