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„Brown coal is not sustainable“: Researchers attend state government session

09/01/2011 - If Brandenburg wants to reach its climate targets, it cannot just carry on relying on power generation from brown coal. This, and more, has been stated by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) this week when attending the state government session. “Such an open and intensive dialogue between science and politics is anything but a matter of course,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. For the fourth time already, Brandenburg’s prime minister Matthias Platzeck invited Schellnhuber and his colleagues for a discussion on energy policy and climate change.

Brown coal mining in the Lausitz region is a controversial issue. When that coal is used for firing power plants, a particularly high amount of greenhouse gases gets emitted – but at the same time, this means jobs and tax revenue for the state. “It is a dilemma,” Schellnhuber said. “However, brown coal is not sustainable when prices for European emission certificates rise.” Also, switching to renewable energy brings new job opportunities. It is “not for nothing that Brandenburg is the number one with renewables in Germany.”

Because of widespread fears of its citizens, the Brandenburg state government recently announced to step back from exploring Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). “CCS should not be dismissed just like that,” Schellnhuber said. “We have to move away from demonizing this technology.”

CCX could open up one way here. The X stands for CO2 usage or cycling instead of only focusing on the storage. CO2 for instance can be processed to methane which can be utilized like natural gas. For this, hydrogene can be used which is produced with wind power – so this can be stored instead of being fed into the grids when the wind blows a lot. “CO2 should be seen as a usable good, not as poison,” Schellhuber explained.

The transformation to methane and CCS are both not ready for the market. But they could be within 10 or 15 years, said Schellnhuber. “Technological breakthroughs are rather rule than exception – if there is sufficient investment.” Being the home for highranking institutions or geosciences, Brandenburg has the best conditions to achieve progress in this field.

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