The German Town Planning to Store Clean Energy in a Disused Coal Mine

A German town is set to implement an innovative way to store renewable enery - in a disused coal mine.

What do coal mines and renewable energy have in common? More than you think, if you fill a disused coal mine with water to store energy from a renewable source - as one German mining town is planning to do.

Autor*in Terri Kafyeke, 03.30.17

What do coal mines and renewable energy have in common? More than you think, if you fill a disused coal mine with water to store energy from a renewable source – as one German mining town is planning to do.

With 18 million inhabitants, North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous German state. The region is heavily industrialised, with Westphalia even being nicknamed “the land of coal and steel”.

Germany is currently aiming to move away from conventional sources of energy, in a transition known as the Energiewende. And a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia has found an ingenious way to repurpose one of their mines: by converting it into a giant battery to store renewable energy.

The Prosper-Haniel coal mine is located in the town of Bottrop. It is the last active black coal mine in the region and it employs 4100 people. The mine will close in 2018, after which it will serve as a pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir.

How Will the System Work?

The system will work by pumping water into a reservoir when renewable energy is being produced, and letting the water flow into a lower chamber when energy is needed. The water flows through turbines which generate electricity. This principle is similar to the “concrete eggs” we presented a few weeks ago.

© Universität Duisburg-Essen There are plans to turn the disused mine into a hydro energy storage project.

The Prosper-Haniel mine will be able to store 200MW, enough to power 400,000 homes. As well as allowing a more steady supply to renewable energy, this project will help create jobs for the mining town that will lose its main source of employment.

If the Prosper-Haniel project is successful, it could pave the way for several other disused mines in the region, and perhaps help create employment in North Rhine-Westphalia. Could the land of coal and steel become the land of wind farms and pumped storage? Only time will tell…

Can we Store Energy in the Sea?

Giant concrete spheres at the bottom of the ocean could be the batteries of the future. At least that is what experts from Fraunhofer Institute believe after conducting some successful tests in the lake of Constance.

Fotolia/ wellphoto
Green From A to B: Join the E-Mobility Revolution

Looking for greener ways to get from A to B? Then it's about time you welcomed e-mobility into your life. We've taken a look at the best ways you can get involved, and the apps and technologies that are there to help.

Showerloop: Long Hot Showers and a Very Clean Conscience

Could Showerloop, the brainchild of a bunch of Finnish eco-hackers, make taking a shower more energy and water-efficient than ever? 

Harnessing Solar Energy in the Sunniest Continent

The launch of a smart solar street lamp assembly line in Bamako, Mali, is a major step in the development of the solar industry in Africa. This joint initiative by Solektra International and Sunna Design should help create jobs and bring light to areas without access to a power grid.

The RESET App Check: Finding Energy-saving Appliances with EcoGator

Are you looking to get rid of your old refrigerator but want to avoid buying a new one that guzzles energy? EcoGator might be able to help your decision-making process. We took the app for a spin.

What Do Salads, Pizza And Renewable Energy Have In Common? More Than You Think

Even with the most efficient processes in place, over-ripened fruit and vegetables are still a source of food waste. Ideas to counteract the issue may include turning them into jams and conserves, quick sale at discounted prices, donation to food banks, or using them as animal feed. Soon, farmers might have an extra option at hand: using over-ripened tomatoes to generate electricity.