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Lignite Mining Assessment/brown coal

Nov 07, 2014

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Fossil fuel power generation is diminishing the options of global existence and could very well make certain areas of the Earth uninhabitable. If the use of electricity were poisoning local drinking water supplies, governments would take immediate corrective action against the power companies. The proliferation
of environmental detriments affecting civilization as a whole, however, is habitually condoned.
"The dead (ancient living organisms-fossil fuels) does in fact control the living-modern fossil fuel based societies-world." Democratic society must regain control of the options it has neglected or relinquished to commercial enterprises.

AIR POLLUTION AND CLIMATE SERIES

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Status and Impacts of the Ger man Lignite Industr y

By Jeffrey H. Michel

THE SWEDISH NGO SECRETARIAT ON ACID RAIN

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AIR POLLUTION AND CLIMATE SERIES: No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 No. 5 No. 6 No. 7 No. 8 No. 9 The Eastern Atmosphere (1993) The Black Triangle a General Reader (1993) Sulphur emissions from large point sources in Europe (1995) To clear the air over Europe (1995) Large combustion plants. Revision of the 1988 EC directive (1995) Doing more than required. Plants that are showing the way (1996) Attacking air pollution. Critical loads, airborne nitrogen, ozone precursors (1996) Better together? Discussion paper on common Nordic-Baltic energy infrastructure and policy issues (1996) Environmental space. As applied to acidifying air pollutants (1998)

No. 10 Acidification 2010. An assessment of the situation at the end of next decade (1999) No. 11 Economic instruments for reducing emissions from sea transport (1999) No. 12 Ground-level ozone. A problem largely ignored in southern Europe (2000) No. 13 Getting more for less. An alternative assessment of the NEC directive (2000) No. 14 An Alternative Energy Scenario for the European Union (2000) No. 15 The worst and the best. Atmospheric emissions from large point sources in Europe (2000) No. 16 To Phase Out Coal (2004) No. 17 Atmospheric emissions from large point sources in Europe (2004)

AIR POLLUTION AND CLIMATE SERIES Status and Impacts of the German Lignite Industry Jeffrey H. Michel. Cover illustration: Devastation in 2004 of Horno, a traditional Sorb village near the Polish border, for the lignite-fired Jnschwalde power station seen in the background. Photo: Grard Petit. ISBN: 91-973691-9-5 ISSN: 1400-4909 Second printing, February 2008. Originally published in April 2005 by the Swedish NGO Secretariat on Acid Rain, Box 7005, S-402 31 Gteborg, Sweden. Phone: +46-31-711 45 15. Fax: +46-31-711 46 20. E-mail: [email protected] Internet: www.acidrain.org. Further copies can be obtained free of charge from the publisher, address as above. The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Swedish NGO Secretariat on Acid Rain. About the author: Jeffrey H. Michel is the Energy Coordinator of Heuersdorf, a German village threatened by lignite mining devastation. He is an advisor to Friends of the Earth Europe and the Green League. He received his electrical engineering degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tulane University and has been living in Germany since 1970. From 1992 to 1995, he served as energy director of the European Energy and Environmental Park in Leipzig. He is author of numerous publications on environmental conditions in the new German states. Contact Address: Dorfstrasse 25, 04574 Heuersdorf, Germany. [email protected] www.heuersdorf.de

AIR POLLUTION AND CLIMATE SERIES NO. 18

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ContentsExecutive Summary ..................................................... 5 1. Lignite Resources and Use ........................................ 91.1. Worldwide Lignite Production 1.2. Lignite in Germany 1.3. Perspectives for Lignite Deployment in Power Generation

2. Lignite Characteristics .............................................. 122.1 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. Definition Quality Parameters The Fuel of Many Hurdles Lignite Extraction Devastation and Resettlement The Mining Curse

3. Lignite Power Generation ........................................ 243.1. Characteristics of Lignite Power Plants 3.2. Lignite Power Plants in Germany

4. Eastern Germany: A Lignite Platform ................... 264.1. The Supremacy of Lignite in the New German States 4.2. Historical Prelude

5. Destroying Villages for Profit ................................... 405.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6. 6.1. 6.2. 6.3. 6.4. 6.5 Foreign Invasions in Middle Germany Mining Plans on Historic Ground Divestment and Compensation Horno (Rogow) Ruination of a Sorb Showcase Lakoma (Lacoma) Nature at the Brink of Extermination Heuersdorf A Historic Bastion External Costs The Contribution of Lignite to Climate Change Cumulative Effects of Greenhouse Gas Emissions True Lies German Climate Protection Policy Early Actions after the Fact

6. Hidden Detriments of Lignite Power Production ... 52

7. Reducing CO 2 Emissions .......................................... 637.1. Fossil Fuels in Power Generation 7.2. CO2-Reduction Technologies 7.3 Vattenfall and Advanced Energy Technologies

8. Ethical Conflicts ......................................................... 698.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5. 8.6. Germanys Ecological Divide Uncomfortable Legacies Selective Corporate Standards Political Conflicts of Interest Corporate Irregularities Underbidding the Third World

9. NGOs and the Lignite Industry ................................. 80 10. Conclusion ................................................................ 84 Endnotes ........................................................................ 86

STATUS AND IMPACTS OF THE GERMAN LIGNITE INDUSTRY

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AIR POLLUTION AND CLIMATE SERIES NO. 18

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Executive SummaryLignite, or brown coal, is the main domestic fuel resource in Germany. In contrast with the diminishing global reserves and increasing prices of natural gas and oil, lignite appears to offer long-term energy security at predictable cost. The accessible geological deposits between the Rhineland and the tri-country region of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic are sufficient for maintaining current levels of lignite power generation for more than two centuries. These reserves generally lie less than half a kilometer below the surface, allowing relatively inexpensive strip mining to be employed. However, lignite is ultimately very costly to use because of factors not reflected in market prices. Lignite power production is exempt from taxes that have been levied on gas generating plants, and mining is likewise not subject to fees for groundwater depletion. According to a study released by the German environmental ministry in October 2004, the contribution of all such indirect subsidies approaches one billion euro per year. The financial burdens of environmental and health detriments are estimated at a minimum of 3.5 billion euro annually. When the comprehensive effects of climate change are added, the total hidden costs of lignite use in Germany may lie as high as 35 billion euro per year. In relation to German mining production of 180 million tons annually, these concealed costs range from 25 euro to 200 euro per ton of lignite, or up to 22 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Lignite is delivered to power plants for only about 10 euro a ton. On an all-inclusive basis, however, it is considerably more expensive than renewable energy from wind or biomass. More than one-quarter of German electrical power is generated using lignite. The future expansion of this sector appears likely due to the limited availability of viable alternatives for the countrys 19 nuclear plants, which by law must be phased out within two decades. In 2003, these reactors delivered 165 billion kilowatt-hours (165 TWh) of electrical energy, thus accounting for 27.6% of total power consumption. The first plant was retired in November of that same year at the city of Stade. Particularly comprehensive changes in the lignite industry have occurred in eastern Germany, where domestic lignite prevails over all other fuels for generating electrical power.R

Most lignite operations have been taken over by two foreign corporations, the Swedish state enterprise Vattenfall Europe AG and MIBRAG, owned by two American corporations through a Netherlands holding company, MIBRAG B.V . Advanced technologies have been employed to diminish environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, but political compromises have inhibited further innovation. Lignite power production has risen despite continuing population decline.

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After three eastern German lignite power stations were commissioned between 1997 and 2000, the federal government abandoned its self-imposed 25% carbondioxide (CO2) reduction goal for 2005 (referred to 1990). The less stringent Kyoto target of 21% must now only be attained by 2012 using a mixture of six greenhouse gases. Crude lignite contains significant quantities of sulfur, inorganic impurities, and

STATUS AND IMPACTS OF THE GERMAN LIGNITE INDUSTRY

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over 50% residual groundwater, all of which detract from power plant efficiency. The remaining combustible portion consists largely of carbon. As a result of these two factors, about one kilogram of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated nearly three times the amount produced by a combined-cycle gas turbine plant. While lignite accounts for 11% of primary energy consumption in Germany, it is responsible for 22% of the carbon dioxide produced. Since 2000, German CO2 emissions have stagnated at around 16% below 1990 levels. The three major mining companies RWE Power AG (operating in the Rhineland), Vattenfall, and MIBRAG now intend to increase lignite production in response to nuclear phase-out and rising power consumption. Half of the countrys generating capacity must be substituted in western Germany within the next two decades, including all nuclear reactors and over 40,000 MW of ageing fossil fuel generating equipment. Vattenfall and MIBRAG have already announced the construction of additional lignite power plants in the east. The Prognos AG research institute has estimated that lignite will be supplying 34% of all electrical power by 2040. The fulfillment of these expectations would make Germany less capable of meeting future climate protection obligations. New plants will be m