03 Jun 2014 09:28
Despite Germany’s reputation as an environmentally conscious nation, the country has been quietly ramping up its production of brown coal in recent years. As mining companies buy up land and dig vast open-pit mines, natural areas are being desecrated and inhabitants of nearby villages are being forced from their homes. Now, residents in nine villages in the eastern state of Brandenburg fear for the future of their homes, as the very land their houses are built on is being bought-up by Swedish mining company Vattenfall.
Brown coal is considered by many to be the black gold of the 21st century. After oil, coal is the world’s most important energy source, which makes mining it a highly lucrative business. Germany is the biggest brown coal producer in world, far ahead of China and the United States. In 2013, they produced over 162 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from brown coal. Currently, Germany’s coal production is at a 25-year high and shows no sign of slowing down. Some coal industry experts are even calling the recent surge in production a “brown coal renaissance”.