Lignite worthless for export

The calorific value lies at 7.8 to 10.5 MJ/kg, half that of firewood, necessitating three times the fuel tonnage of hard coal (27 - 33 MJ/kg) in power generation.

Abundant lignite deposits lie only a few hundred feet below the ground and are readily extracted by imposing bucket wheel surface excavators, some heavier than the Eiffel Tower (10,000 tons). On average, six times as much clay and sand must first be removed.

  Suez Canal excavation every 3 weeks

Mining 175 million tons of lignite per year therefore becomes comparable to excavating the original Suez Canal (74 million cubic meters) every three weeks. That rate would be accelerated by energy intensive carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for circumventing the ETS. Superseding nuclear power by lignite generation would require even greater mining expansion, particularly if the inherent CO2 emissions were likewise to be captured and sequestered in distant saline aquifers.

  To heavy for the export

Geological accessibility makes lignite Germany’s least expensive fuel at 1.1 euro/GJ, about $1.70/MBtu, only a third the cost of imported coal. The low energy content precludes it from being profitably exported, effectively stabilizing domestic prices.

Guest article from Jefffrey H. Michel

  High-Carbon Lignite Impedes German Climate Policy

Guest article from Jefffrey H. Michel about CCS, brown coal (lignite) in Germany and the problems with the German climate politics.

Germany mines 175 million metric tons (Mt) of lignite
or brown coal, per year for producing one quarter of its electricity (150 TWh/a) in 22 GW of mine-mouth power stations.

Lignite composition
Mined lignite consists of one third elemental carbon that is permeated with residual groundwater, mineral impurities, and sulphur deposited by prehistoric volcanoes.

Lignite power plants and open-cast mining
These installations collectively emit 57 million tons of CO2/a. Lignite is employed both from the company’s own mines and from the MIBRAG mining corporation near Leipzig.

Less full load hours at coal power plants
Under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act, conventional power plants have been subordinated to alternative technologies that are granted priority access to the grid.

CSS not competitive?
If carbon capture should be mandated or subsidized in the European Union, a possible result of 12 current pilot projects,

Context description:  brown coal lignite power plants GHG CO2 carbon dioxide carbondioxide climate change protection CCS Carbon Capture and Storage event events date time month 1 Jan January winter