RWE is building solar parks in former opencast mining areas

The energy company RWE likes to present itself green and sustainable in advertisements. For a while, the slogan “go ahead” was used for this. In fact, it is still one of the largest CO2 emitters in all of Europe. The group also has to catch up in the field of solar energy. RWE’s coal-fired power stations have a capacity of 7.6 gigawatts, while the company’s solar parks have only 3 megawatts. However, this ratio will change significantly in the coming years. On the one hand, because more and more coal-fired power stations are going offline. On the other hand, also through the construction of new solar systems. Sometimes both have to be done in the same place. The Weisweiler power station with the adjacent Inden opencast mine is an example of this. According to current plans, coal-fired power generation should come to an end here in seven years. Opencast mining will also be discontinued by that time at the latest.

An energy storage facility provides the necessary flexibility for the feed-in

With the water of the Roer, a gigantic lake is to be created there, which has already been christened with the name “Indian Ocean”. However, the implementation of this project will take decades. Part of the land that is no longer needed for opencast mining will therefore initially be used in a different way: a total of 26,500 solar panels will be placed on a strip 100 meters wide and 1.4 kilometers long. The entire solar park will thus have a capacity of 14.4 megawatts, multiplying the group’s capacities in one fell swoop. At the same time, an energy storage system will also be installed. This absorbs the electricity when the public grid is occupied and returns it when necessary. All in all, RWE is investing around eleven million euros in this special form of structural change. This summer, the power station will produce clean electricity for the first time and feed it back to the grid.

Old open pit sites bring a number of benefits

In addition, the location in a former opencast mine was not only chosen because of its symbolic effect. On the contrary, it brings a whole host of benefits. There is no competition for space here, because it cannot be used in any other way. Agriculture, for example, is not possible here. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of citizen protests. In addition, there is already the necessary infrastructure in terms of road and electricity network. This reduces the necessary investment costs. In addition, RWE already has good contacts with the local authorities here. This can speed up the approval process. It is therefore no wonder that the group is also planning similar projects in other locations. Because the group’s coal-fired power stations are currently needed much more than originally planned. However, they have no fixed future.