The Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine in North-Rhine Westaphalia is a show piece of the right way forward. It is a hard coal mine that dates back to 1863, and thankfully in 2018 it will never produce coal again.
Instead of just being shuttered, it is being converted into a 200 megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir. This means that it will be used to store excess energy from green sources like solar and wind.
Projects like this are a necessary part of a green grid, and show how innovative thinking can repurpose some of the most horrendous forms power generation into valuable infrastructure. Instead of helping to create toxic pollution, this coal mine will be creating badly needed power storage.
Solar and wind power are now economic alternatives to power sources like coal, and in some cases they are actually much cheaper. The drawback they have is their inability to produce what is called “base load”. This refers to power that can be created at any time, to meet fluctuation in electricity demand.
Next generation battery technology will ultimately play a big role in green power storage, but for now projects like this offer a bridge to the future. It is also extremely satisfying to see a coal mine being flooded to make a green grid work.
North-Rhine Westaphalia has committed to have 30% of its power created by renewable sources by 2025, and this project is a big part of that effort. This facility creates enough electricity to power 400,000 German homes, and it will also create jobs for the local community.
It is wonderful to see strong action being taken to move our race towards a future that is safe and sustainable. The government of North-Rhine Westaphalia deserves to be recognized for innovative thinking, and taking action.