In the summer semester of 2016, the UDE's Faculty of Energy organized an excursion through the Garzweiler open-cast mine in the Rhineland's brown coal district. About 25 students received impressions from the daily business of raw material extraction.
The Garzweiler open-cast mine is operated by RWE Power AG and is located about 35 km southeast of Düsseldorf. There are 1.3 billion tonnes of lignite to be mined by 2045. Approximately 70 TWh of electrical energy are produced annually, which means that the Rheinische Revier generates about 12% of the annual electricity demand in Germany.
After a short introduction at the RWE Visitor Centre, the group and their supervisor drove to the open pit mine, through adjacent recultivation areas and through a resettlement site.
The scale is reflected in an inspection of the site. Conveyor belts on which coal is loaded and transported have been seen everywhere.
The students then took the bus directly to the world's largest lignite excavator. The machine is actually not much smaller than the Cologne Cathedral. It produces 240,000 tons of coal every day. After the lignite has been mined, the remaining hole in the western part of the open pit mine is to be converted into a lake.
All in all it was a great and informative day.