With Germany committed to completely phasing out coal-based power by 2038, planners are already thinking about what to do with mines and coal-burning power plants. Swiss company Meyer Burger has put forward an idea for the Hambach mine in industrial North Rhine-Westphalia: flood the site and use it as a floating solar power facility.
The proposition has the support of Professor Uwe Rau, the director of the Institute for Energy and Climate Research at the renowned Jülich Research Center, which borders on the mine.
“If we replaced the coal power plants in the mine with a solar park, we’d gain a double advantage,” Rau told regional radio station Rur Radio. “We wouldn’t have to tear down the electrical towers and power lines currently connected to the coal plants and rebuild them elsewhere. Moreover…the solar park could generate as much electricity as all the current coal-burning plants in this part of Rhineland put together.”
The park would have an installed capacity of around 10 gigawatts and a potential for producing 12,000 gigawatt hours. Construction on the project could also mean more business for Germany.
“It makes sense to produce in Germany again,” Rau said. “Transporting solar modules has become very expensive, so domestic production, as Meyer Burger is suggesting, makes good sense.”
The German government has earmarked tens of billions of euros to help Germany’s coal producing regions, including the one in North Rhine-Westphalia, make the transition to a cleaner energy future.