Fri Jul 23rd, 2010 at 06:17:06 AM EST
Firing low-grade coal mined from open-cast mines is one of the dirtiest forms of electricity generation. However, due to the large size of the plants and the long periods of return of investment, such baseload plants are also ideal for environment-ignoring state monopolies thinking ahead for decades or energy majors wanting to secure market dominance over similar timescales. Thus, this generation mode continues on even in European countries priding themselves of high environmental standards, and villagers are up against powerful interests if they want to fight relocation ahead of a new open-cast mine prospect.
In former East Germany, for lack of better resources, the mining of Braunkohle (lit. "brown coal", often mis-translated lignite but corresponding to high-grade sub-bituminous or low-grade bituminous coal in English terminology) was very large-scale, and whole counties were turned into lunar landscapes. A lot of mines were closed and efficiency in the remainder was increased after Reunification, but, despite promises, the industry wasn't phased out. The new private owners pursued new mines. Although villagers with their new democratic rights could put up significant resistance, lawsuits only slowed down the demise of further villages (and raised compensation funds).
Kerkwitz, near the Polish border, is in the way of the latest claim by Vattenfall. With only 500 inhabitants, resistance is difficult. Now taz reports a new move to raise the stakes: a solar power plant.
The village intends to build a photovoltaic installation atop the firefighters' building, and get it financed by selling shares. For Vattenfall, this not only means an increase of potential compensation costs (for the prematurely dismantled solar plant), but the addition of outsiders as admissible co-claimants of class-action lawsuits.