PV "van boven"
Zonnepanelen uit de ruimte - Solar panels on Earth out of space
© all photographs Google Earth except where indicated
Energy harvesting at its worst and at its best in the same area:
Lignite strip mining in Germany's Nordrhein-Westfalen with a marginal "sustainable" edge to it
Situated in the triangle Köln - Mönchen-Gladbach - Aachen with "modern" additions of small windfarms and, surprisingly, a minute PV-"test" plant (?)
"Energy landscape" of the Jülicher Börde - modern times in a torn German region (webmaster's commentary)
- example of immense machinery used in strip mines
Strip mining from space - overview (Google)
Peter J. Segaar, author and webmaster of Dutch Solar/Sustainable Energy platform Polder PV
The map above shows an area west and south of Grevenbroich, a village lying at the edge of one of (progressive) Germany's worst "energy related regions", the lignite strip mining area in the triangle between Köln, Mönchen-Gladbach and Aachen in Nordrhein-Westfalen (just east from the most southeasterly province Limburg of the Netherlands). The area depicted is only a small portion of the total area, part of which has already been destructed at a scale almost unimagineable to human beings. The huge, kilometers long scars are easily visible from space, have a depth of a few hundred meters, several villages are destroyed, compensation is lax and low, people who have lived in their villages for decades have to move to a newly built area totally unknown to them, social fabric of communities is being torn apart, a cathedral will be destroyed and not rebuilt, the machines that disrupt the landscape are among the biggest in the world and made by former WOII tycoon KRUPP, and, if all this is not bad enough, the brown coal (lignite) that is harvested here at an alarming rate, is burnt in various huge power plants that put an amount of CO2 in the air that is mind-boggling.
The bright side also has its counterpart. It shows "the other side" of a country which, because of political will, boldness, and a basic ecological approach of life, has been extremely succesfull in pushing sustainable energy technologies to the forefront and that is already earning huge amounts of money by exporting their knowledge and sustainable products abroad. Germany is a country in which BMW's can and may ride as fast as possible on the motorways, but it also has thousands and thousands of well-visited organic food shops. The country has shown to the world that sustainable energy can, is, and will be a success, if good law-making is done and an investor climate is created that promises a long, stabile incentive climate through, for example, performance (kWh production) related rebates for decentralized sustainable energy producing wind-, photovoltaic, and clean biomass installations. Germany, in doing so, and because of this absolute and essential fundament under the sustainable energy law (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz), has become world leader in actually erected windpower volume, and in photovoltaic Wattpeak power installed on zillions of private, industrial and communal roofs, on abandoned agricultural fields and on unused, heavily polluted environmental wastelands like (lignite) mining areas and former nuclear missile storage sites and other military areas. Hence: Germany DOES show that it can work on "the good side of things" in a very succesful manner, but the present page shows that there is also "another side of that glorifying medal".
PV and lignite - good "match"? One could wonder as to why in the landscape shown in this page, which is reminiscent of the surface of the moon, one would "want" to install some wind turbines or, even, a small, totally insignificant PV-plant. The answer is, undoubtedly, strongly related to that cancerous human deficit called "money". Off course, not one intelligent human being wants to invest one single eurocent in this massively raped area. Hence: "soil" prices are as low as you can get, and therefore, to add to the "poison-green image" of the landscape tearing companies (heavily backed by the NRW government because they get a lot of supercheap kWh by allowing these monstrosities), these "sustainable", but on the present scale totally insignificent energy production units are just a grey-green scam on top of a black, very black period of German energy history.
The future of lignite - promising, despite environmental destruction. Rumours abound among these premises. "Our" southern (Dutch) province Limburg is having serious groundwater problems because of the absurd scale and depth of the mining activities which, despite the monstrous water-containment activities (which cost huge amounts of energy to implement!), is "leaking" groundwater eastward at an astonishing scale. It is all starting just over 10 kilometers from the border with NRW. One of the Netherlands biggest consumers of "green electricity", the "Nederlandse Spoorwegen" (national railway company), however, is said to having also a fat contract for huge consumption of cheap electricity from these lignite burning coal plants. How low can you get? There are several big energy companies such as RWE Power wanting to burn lots and lots more of this devilish lignite, and they and others have serious plans for brown coal energy plants of 670 to over 2.000 megawatts a piece. The plans encompass a flabbergasting foreseen extraction rate of an amount of 1.570 billion tons of brown coal/lignite until the year 2045. This fact alone is a bloody serious threat to the hard-needed development of sustainable ways of producing energy, because of the artificial market destruction due to the absurd low price of the lignite-burning kilowatthours, in which not one single environmental damage penalty fee is incorporated!
Kyoto protocol? "Go out of our way, we want to earn a lot of money, and the future of our planet is not in our interest!" That seems to be the unpleasant line of thought of the people responsible for this extremely destructive, nature and people destroying business.
A light ray in a dark world. One meagre "advantage" of these "Works of the Devil": A large portion of the A44 Motorway ("Autobahn") between Aachen ("Kreuz Jackerath") and Mönchen-Gladbach ("Kreuz Holz" SW. of Jüchen) will cease to exist as the soil on which it is built will be shoveled away with the biggest "Schaufelradbagger" (Bucket wheel excavator) in the world, shoveling 240.000 tons of coal or covering layers a day, with a length of 240 meters, height of 96 meter and a bucket wheel measuring 21,6 meter. This kind of monster machine is being handled by a single person who is not doing much of the day (or night, extraction is a continuous process in this Man-made Hell) because most of the extraction and transport processes are automated...
Not only here. This is not the only area in which lignite is excavated at such an absurd magnitude in Germany. In the DDR (former East Germany), it was also excavated in an extremely environmentally unfriendly manner, for example in the surroundings of Leipzig, in which many lignite day mines have been shut since the Fall of the Iron Curtain, and businesses are rapidly growing in the sustainable energy business, PV among them growing "like cabbage". However, there are still large mines being stripped of their abundant ore, such as the huge Weiswasser-mine in the Muskauer Heide area in north-east Germany, close to the border with Poland. And there are more, comparable large-scale threats like the enormous "tar sand deposits" in Canada, that are equally starting to be exploited via a tremendous, landscape destructive strip-mining approach because of the continuously rising oil-prices. Threats abound, but let's remain positive and go for solar and all these other much more environmentally friendly, decentralized, non-disruptive ways of energy production close to our homes or on top of those scams that we hope will soon be part of the past.
Shell Solar's 5 MWp Espenhain project has been erected a few years ago on top of a stripped lignite mine and many large PV-plants are following suit, either in ecological "desaster" areas, or on industrial large scale roofs. In addition, and probably more important, thousands and thousands of private and small-scale industrial and communal roofs are covered with solar panels by their owners or even by rental corporations. The (sustainable) future is ours!
on this remarkable PV installation is given on the website (leaflet with
photo, linked below) of the gigantic energy producer (overwhelmingly
lignite as source) RWE, that appears to be the owner of this test
Peter J. Segaar/Polder PV.
Source: RWE leaflet:
nice: sustainable energy!
- hautnah. Fotodokumentation zum Braunkohle-Abbaugebiet Garzweiler
(bei Köln)", and "Ein ganzes Dorf muss wegziehen
& S. Jung (2006). - Solarbrief
1/06 of the Solarenergie-Förderverein
e.V., pp. 22-29. Astonishing photographs of the Garzweiler strip
mine. These EXCELLENT newsletters, in the German language, can be
downloaded from the website of the SFV:
"Bruinkool Duitsland - Lignite Germany". In: T. Anema & M. Szulc-Krzyzanowski (2000). World of Energy. De Verbeelding publishers, Amsterdam. - pp. 59-66. Including photographs of the monstrous machines, in huge lignite mines SW of East German's Weiswasser on the west rim of the Muskauer Heide near the border with Poland.
of many photograps of the astonishing machinery used in strip mining
photographs of the relocation of one of the bucket wheel excavators,
having to cross a motorway in the process...:
page on the Frimmersdorf power plant and other energy-related items
in the region:
also link page to the "Straße der Energie" (Energy Road) running
along the PV power plant of Frimmersdorf:
leaflet on the "Straße der Energie",
with description of the PV-plant (translation
above; 209 kB):
info on Frimmersdorf lignite power plant (net 2.136 MW;
info on Neurath lignite power plant (net 2.083 MW;
Dreissig" (the "Thirty Filthiest")
- According to World Wildlife Fund, the Frimmersdorf power plant
is among the thirty filthiest in Europe,
5 of the top ten are located in Germany and 4 of those 5 are run
by RWE in Nordrhein-Westfalen...:
lignite industry in Germany has its own, very successful lobbying
branch organisation. From one of their documents:
more can be found, off course, using Google or other Web search
engines, on this dubious "phenomenon" of human society.
© 2006 Peter J. Segaar/Polder PV subsite, Leiden (NL)
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