Lignite and renewables

secure energy supply is possible without further open-cast mining. There is no way for the industrialized countries to avoid a rebuilding of the energy system, as we are facing a global energy crisis. The sooner we start reconsidering and questioning our beliefs, the easier this process will be.
In their 2002 report, the German parliament’s Select Committee „Sustainable energy supply“ qualifies an increase in energy efficiency and renewable energies (1) as the only sustainable step towards development. It facilitates the nuclear exit until 2030 as well as a substantial reduction of fossil fuels. This way, renewable energies could cover at least 50 % of primary energy consumption until 2050. From the technological point of view, even full energy supply from renewables until 2050 would be possible. In February 2007, the Ministry of the Environment published a pilot study, which also departs from a drastic reduction of lignite use until 2050, despite a simultaneous nuclear exit, as shown in the image.(2) The 46 petajoule of energy generated from lignite estimated for 2050 correspond to approx. five million tons of annual lignite production in Germany (currently 40 million tons in the federal state of Brandenburg alone).

When compared to the current situation, the absolute figures for oil and natural gas also decrease in a pilot scenario. Thus, an increase of dependence on imports is not likely to occur. While individual politicians are trying to make us believe in an invisible threat from the East in order to advertise further open cast mining, their energy forecast includes an even higher import of oil and natural gas.(3) Are they succeeding by making us believe that the dependence on lignite is actually an independence? Without a doubt, there is faulty developments in relation to the use of renewables. The responsibility for these developments lies with the government itself, not with the environmental groups or opposition parties, who had demanded different concepts.(4) The energy savings in the pilot scenario could simply be reached by increasing efficiency within an increasingly convenient lifestyle, which means that a more economical lifestyle would be make this change happen faster and easier.

The fact that securing a base load energy supply is possible using only renewables, has been proven with the “Kombikraftwerk” project in autum 2007. (www.kombikraftwerk.de)
Total final energy consumption in the study LEITSZENARIO 2006 according to the origin of the final energy and additional gain in efficiency in final energy compared to the PROGNOS/EWI reference scenario (“REF 2005”).

Footnotes:
(1) the so-called “REG/REN campaign”
(2) the pilot study 2007 “Development strategy renewables” study under the authority of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in February 2007.
(3) The pilot scenario of the Ministry of the Environment is still expecting 2011 petajoule from oil, natural gas, associated gas and mine gas for the year 2050. The Minitstry of Economy’s reference scenario by PROGNOS/EWI on the other hand is estimating 3758 PJ from oil and 3436 PJ from natural gas. Therefore, the dependence on imports is higher in the reference scenario!
(4) i.e. regional business cycles instead of Europe-wide mandatory admixture in the case of vegetable oil

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