A German company is mothballing eight wind turbines, which will make room for expanding a nearby lignite coal mining operation.
RWE is also re-activating three coal-fueled power plants, one of which had been scheduled to be permanently shut down last month, according to the company and government sources.
The German Bundeskabinett, or Federal Cabinet, authorized energy company RWE to re-open the coal plants to help offset lowered energy imports caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Fox News.
“We realize this comes across as paradoxical,” RWE spokesperson Guido Steffen told The Guardian. “But that is as matters stand.”
After complaints from climate activists, some German government officials protested the dismantling of the windfarm.
“In the current situation, all potential for the use of renewable energy should be exhausted as much as possible and existing turbines should be in operation for as long as possible,” a spokesperson for North-Rhine Westphalia’s ministry for economic and energy affairs said. “We don’t currently see any necessity to dismantle the wind power plant by the L12 [road] near the Garzweiler surface mine.”
The windmills, however, have been slated to be removed beginning this year since they were first constructed in 2001.
“One of the turbines was dismantled last week to make way for the mine’s expansion, with two others to be taken down in the first and last quarter of next year, said a spokesperson for WPD, which manages a portion of the wind park,” The Guardian reported. “A spokesperson for Energiekontor, which built and runs the rest of the windfarm, said a time limit to its operational permit meant it expected to have to dismantle the five remaining turbines by the end of 2023.”
According to the report, each of the 20-year-old windmills generates only about 1 megawatt of electricity hourly, about one-sixth of the electricity produced by more modern wind turbines.
In contrast, the lignite-fueled power plants will generate about 300 megawatts each, the company said.
Lignite coal, it should be noted, isn’t even very efficient source of energy, as far as fossil fuels go.
Environmental activists consider lignite, sometimes called brown coal, to be the “most polluting and health-harming form of coal,” according to a 2018 “HEAL Briefing” from the Health and Environmental Alliance, which describes itself as “the leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the natural and built environments affect health in the European Union (EU) and beyond.”
This is in part because lignite’s low carbon content and higher water content requires more of it to be burned to obtain the the same amount of energy than would be produced by burning a smaller amount of higher quality “hard coal.”
“Originally, it was planned that the three reserve power plant units affected would be permanently shut down on September 30, 2022, and September 30, 2023, respectively,” RWE said in September.
“With their deployment, they contribute to strengthening the security of supply in Germany during the energy crisis and to saving natural gas in electricity generation,” the company added.
Reducing natural gas consumption is key to avoiding a “gas emergency,” Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s national energy network regulator, said last month.
“We will hardly be able to avoid a gas emergency in winter without at least 20% savings in the private, commercial and industrial sectors,” Mueller said, according to The Associated Press. “The situation can become very serious if we do not significantly reduce our gas consumption.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.