Hard coal

Interesting facts about hard coal

Interesting facts about hard coal
The subsidised hard coal mining industry in Germany ended on December 31, 2018 with the closure of the last remaining mines in Bottrop and Ibbenbüren.
Interesting facts about hard coal
The termination will be carried out in a socially acceptable manner and on a legal basis.
Interesting facts about hard coal
With approx. 2.6 million tonnes extracted in 2018, German hard coal covered around 6% of the German requirements.
Interesting facts about hard coal
Around 94% of the required hard coal is imported, mainly from Russia, Colombia, the USA and Australia.
Interesting facts about hard coal
In an international comparison, German hard coal mining is characterised by difficult geological conditions (extreme mining depths, thin seams, high rock pressure) and an extensive, subterranean infrastructure.
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History

The hard coal industry in Germany gained in economic importance during the industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries. Production increased steadily, reaching an annual peak of more than 200 million tonnes at the beginning of the Second World War. After WW2, German hard coal was used in the electricity, steel and heat supply industries. In the mid-1950s, more than 600,000 employees in 170 mines extracted 150 million tonnes of hard coal every year. This situation changed at the end of the 1950s. German hard coal could no longer compete efficiently in the world market since its extraction was (and is) carried out exclusively through underground mining. Even in 2018, it still needed subsidies from public authorities. In recent decades, imported coal and, above all, cheaper crude oil have replaced domestic hard coal.

The current situation of the German coal industry is the result of a continuous adaptation process, This started with the founding of the Ruhrkohle AG – a merger of 51 Ruhr area mines – in 1969.

Outlook

On February 7, 2007, the German Federal Government, the Federal States of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland, the RAG AG and the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) agreed to end the subsidised production of hard coal in Germany at the end of 2018 in a socially acceptable manner. The phase-out process is governed by the “socially acceptable phasing-out of subsidised hard coal mining in Germany” framework agreement of August 14, 2007 and by the German Hard Coal Financing Act, which came into force in December 2007. For more on this, please refer to state subsidies and tax concessions.

Economic importance

In 2018, hard coal in Germany covered 10.9% of primary energy consumption and contributed 12.8% to German electricity generation. In 2018, power stations accounted for roughly 56% of the total consumption of hard coal, the steel industry accounted for 42% while other producing industries, the domestic heating sector and small consumers accounted for some 2%. 2.6 million tonnes of German hard coal were extracted in 2018, equivalent to a value of some
€247 million. In 2018, the two hard coal mines remaining in Germany (one in Bottrop and one in Ibbenbüren) employed 3,3493 persons. In view of this development, imports in 2018 covered around 94% of the demand for hard coal and hard coal products (46.6 million tonnes).

Lignite​

Interesting facts about lignite

Interesting facts about lignite
With production at around 166.3 million tonnes in 2018, lignite accounted for almost 11.2% of primary energy production in Germany.
Interesting facts about lignite
Lignite accounted for around 22.6% of gross electricity generation in 2018.
Interesting facts about lignite
The Rhenish mining region is the largest lignite mining site in Europe and Germany is the world’s largest producer of lignite.
Interesting facts about lignite
Germany covers 100% of its lignite requirements from domestic reserves.
Interesting facts about lignite
Recultivation and compensation for land required for mining are important issues for the German lignite mining industry.
Interesting facts about lignite
Germany will phaseout coal-fired power generation and stop it completely by the end of 2038 at the latest.
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History

As early as the 17th century in Germany, lignite was being produced as a replacement fuel for wood, which was becoming increasingly scarce. With increasing industrialisation and the development of new deposits, the 19th century saw an increase in lignite production from 170,000 tonnes in 1840 to 40 million tonnes in 1900. This trend continued unabated in the 20th century until production reached an all-time peak in 1985 with 433 million tonnes produced that year. Much of this increase in overall German lignite production was attributable to the East German lignite coalfields. After the East/West German reunification, lignite production in East German lignite coalfields declined by 67% between 1989 and 1994, caused mainly by a change in the energy source mix. Total German production fell from 410 million tonnes to 207 million tonnes during this period.

Extraction

Lignite is mainly extracted in three areas – the Rhenish, Lausitz and Central German regions, where mining is only carried out in opencast mines close to the surface. Lignite is currently mined in 10 active open-cast mining sites. The Rhenish mining region is located in the Lower Rhine Bay in the city triangle of Aachen, Mönchengladbach and Cologne. The Lausitz mining region (formerly also called the mining region East of the river Elbe) extends from the south-east of Brandenburg to the north-east of Saxony. Since German reunification, the Central German mining region has generally been assigned to Saxony-Anhalt as well as to the north-western part of Saxony and the extreme east of Thuringia. Annual production in 2018 amounted to approx. 166.3 million tonnes and has largely remained constant in recent years. The value of the lignite subsidised in Germany in 2018 amounted to €2.2 billion. This means that lignite is the most important natural resource in Germany, in terms of the value of production. With the decline in lignite production in the wake of German reunification, the number of persons directly employed in lignite mining fell from 130,000 in 1990 to 9,152 in 2018.

Uses

Around 90% of the lignite Germany produces is used to generate electricity and district heating. The economic advantages in using lignite result from the combination of the opencast mine and power plant being near the location of the lignite deposits. Around 10% of the lignite produced is refined into solid or pulverised fuels for commercial use and private households (e. g. brown coal briquettes, pulverised lignite, fluidised bed lignite and lignite coke). In 2018, lignite accounted for 11.2% of the primary energy consumption and contributed to 22.6% of electricity generation. The domestic production of lignite covers the country’s annual consumption.