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Germany Closes Its Last Active Coal Mine, Ending 200-year-old Industry

Germany Closes Its Last Active Coal Mine, Ending 200-year-old Industry
Germany will witness the end of an era Friday.

Around mid-afternoon, a team of dusty miners will bring up the last lumps of hard coal mined in the country from the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop, in the heart of Germany’s industrial northwest. It’s a bittersweet farewell for an area already down on its luck.

Prosper-Haniel was the last operating hard coal mine in a region defined by that industry for 200 years. The Ruhr River valley, once the economic engine of post-war industrial Germany, has been down on its luck for decades. In the 1950s, more than 600,000 locals worked in the mines — in 2017, it was down to only 4,500, Clean Energy Wire reports. More than 5 million people live in the 15 cities of the Ruhr area, but their incomes trail the state average by €1,500, and unemployment rates there are double the national average.

Germany’s government is still waiting on the final report from a coal commission to explain how, exactly, a country that still relies on coal-powered plants for a third of its energy can give up the fossil fuel for greener options. Domestic coal has already been replaced by imports from Russia, the U.S., Australia, and Columbia. The commission report is expected in February and will become part of Germany’s first federal Climate Action Law in 2019.

While mining hard coal is officially over in Germany as of today, mines for lignite, or brown coal, remain in operation. Protests between occupiers of the Hambach Forest and energy giant RWE, which wants to raze part of it to expand its lignite mine, have been an ongoing spectacle in German news media this fall.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will be in Bottrop today to bid farewell to this era of Germany’s economy.


Source:  Fortune

By: Grace Dobush
December 21, 2018



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Renewables top coal as Germany’s largest electricity source


Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time last year, accounting for just over 40 percent of electricity production, research showed on Thursday.

The shift marks progress as Europe’s biggest economy aims for renewables to provide 65 percent of its energy by 2030 in a costly transition as it abandons nuclear power by 2022 and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal.

The research from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science showed that output of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3 percent last year to produce 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. That was out of a total national power production of 542 TWh derived from both green and fossil fuels, of which coal burning accounted for 38 percent.

Green energy’s share of Germany’s power production has risen from 38.2 percent in 2017 and just 19.1 percent in 2010.

Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, said it was set to stay above 40 percent this year. “We will not fall below the 40 percent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” he said.

The wind power industry produced 111 TWh from combined onshore and offshore capacity of just under 60 GW, constituting 20.4 percent of total German power output. Wind power was the biggest source of energy after domestically mined brown coal power which accounted for 24.1 percent.

More: Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s main energy source


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