13. January 2022Coal phase-out 2030: Implications for the Garzweiler II opencast mine and the rescue of Lützerath

The mining area of the Garzweiler II opencast mine in the Rhenish lignite mining region must be significantly reduced in size compared to the plans of the local government and the mining operator. This short study deals with the mining area to be adjusted in size in the probable case of a coal phase-out in 2030 at the latest with regard to the necessity of devastation of the village of Lützerath.

The phase-out date for coal-fired power generation in 2030 envisaged in the coalition agreement sets the framework for the calculations of the maximum coal production volumes to be assumed by then. Thus, if the average production from the Garzweiler II opencast mine remains the same as in 2020 at approx. 19 million tonnes, a maximum of approx. 190 million tonnes of lignite will still be produced from the beginning of 2021 until the end of 2030, which can be used in the operators power plants.



On the basis of these production volumes, it is therefore possible to make a conservative estimate of the size of a mining area that could still be used for lignite production up to 2030. An adapted extraction area is designed that ensures the preservation of all villages and farms at the Garzweiler II opencast mine, including Lützerath. For the designed extraction area, a reserve of at least 210 million tonnes of lignite will be available at the beginning of 2021. The extraction area thus contains a larger reserve than the maximum extraction volume of 190 million tonnes of lignite to be assumed by the end of 2030. The CO2 emissions associated with this stockpile and this production volume exceed the 1.5-degree-compatible budget of the opencast mine by about three times.

Through further development of the southern opencast mining area and the exclusive use of the already devastated village of Immerath, all other villages and farms can be spared. The adapted mining operation will be possible because the northern part of the opencast mine can be closed down during operation.

A to the coal phase-out in 2030 adapted mining area at the Garzweiler II opencast mine ensures the preservation of Lützerath. There is neither an energy industry necessity nor a climate policy justification for the use of still inhabited villages at the Garzweiler II opencast mine.

For further Reading find the publication here.



Catharina Rieve
Research Associate | CoalExit Group
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin | Technische Universität Berlin | Europa-Universität Flensburg