Heavy Metal & Big Numbers – Welzow-Süd

Ever wondered how a 8 billion Euro p.a. money printer could look like? It looks like this and for me quite impressive! this is just a tiny part of a square 54km area that will be farmed until 2042.

Have I mentioned that I love big machines? Those are the largest movable structures built by men. They dwarf everything around them – even good old El Troll would look tiny.

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This is the lignite field (brown coal) that feeds Schwarze Pumpe – a well chosen name for a power plant. This farm is 50 million years old. It yields 20 million tons p.a. (one third of Vattenfalls production) representing 12% of the total German lignite-based production. Germany is the leading lignite farmer world wide.

What can not be captured on pictures is the smell of a hell pit that fits well to the CO2 emission that is 3 times higher as the average of other options (gas, coal, oil).

Funny side note: Schwarze Pumpe is probably the most advanced lignite power plant and has a Carbon Capture and Storage unit. It never went in production as the risk of loosing the stored CO2 seemed to high. So we eliminated the ‚risk‘ in favor of just blowing the CO2 into the air – humans ARE strange!

  • It represents nearly 1% of the german electricity production (7% of the German lignite based electricity).
  • It produces 14 TWh p.a. ( a quarter of Vattenfalls production which is 55TWh).
  • It yields 8 billion € p.a. with 350 employees (that is a nice ratio).


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