The “energy transition“ is the term given to the process by which governments around the world – especially in Germany – are seeking to expand the use of renewables and promote research and technological innovation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. One of these greenhouse gases is methane, which occurs naturally in hard coal mines and has long been associated there exclusively with firedamp explosions and disasters. This changed, in Germany at least, with the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) that allowed for the commercial exploitation of mine gas – the mixture of gases that contains methane. The EU is now considering new proposals that could prevent any economical usage of the mine gas which still occurs even after the end of active hard coal mining in Germany. This edition of Mining Report Glückauf therefore focuses on the utilisation of mine gas for heat and power generation and on the frameworks that currently exist in this area.
The centre piece of all this is the new EU methane strategy that seeks to reduce methane emissions in the energy, agriculture and waste sectors. While this initiative has not yet been adopted, it could impinge significantly on the use of methane for energy applications after 2030.
Now that hard coal mining in Germany has ceased completely the mine water in the former collieries rises in a controlled manner. Increasing mine water levels may lead to changes in the gas emission behaviour at the surface. Intensive monitoring is an effective way to observe the overall process and prevent the threat posed by escapes of gas. Yet mine gas escaping from former hard coal collieries is not the only issue, for methane-bearing landfill gas also exhibits a significant greenhouse potential. Therefore adequate measures have to be taken to detect and capture landfill emissions.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not only a major focus within the EU member states but has long been an important element in international climate policy. Efforts being made include data analysis work and the funding of actions aimed at emission reduction, including the appropriate statutory regulations.
In conclusion it can be seen that a new regulatory and economically viable approach has to be adopted to ensure that methane emissions are effectively prevented in the future.
The ISSA Mining section deals with the effects of noise on human health and safety, while the Post-mining section examines the prospects and problems associated with the application of wind power installations as transition projects for former coal-mining areas.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen