Clean neighbour brown coal plant

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The Lausitz area of eastern Germany -- stricken by the environmental disasters of opencast lignite mining and its combustion in power stations -- is discovering the joys of wind energy. An Enercon E40 500 kW wind turbine has been installed on a mining overburden tip adjacent to a lignite opencast mine and within a stone's throw of the 3000 MW brown coal power station Jaenschwaelde.

The unusual site required special consideration. As the material composing the 35 m overburden tip was not sufficiently compact to carry a normal turbine foundation, eight 38 m long anchoring stakes had to be driven into the ground to provide the necessary stability. An overburden tip is made up of the sedimentary rock which once covered the coal seams.

The wind turbine, which went into operation at the end of March, has been affectionately nicknamed "Krabat" by its operators, the Renewable Energies Support Association, Cottbus and Uckerwind Engineering Office. Krabat was a powerful character from Lausitz mythology who helped the millers in olden times by blowing into the sails of their windmills on windless days.

Krabat is expected to generate about one million kilowatt hours a year, equivalent to the electricity consumption of Bärenbrück, a hamlet at the foot of the overburden tip. For the moment, Krabat rules in lonesome splendour at the top of the tip close to the Polish border, but a study of wind potential in the area shows that several hundred megawatts of wind capacity could be installed in the lunar landscape left by the opencast lignite mining.

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