Germany is turning its big open coal mines into lakes

The Hambach opencast coal mine will be a reservoir (Leonhard Lenz/CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)
German utility RWE has chosen a Turkish steelmaker to supply pipe sections for its planned pipeline from the River Rhine to turn opencast coal mines in the Ruhr into giant lakes.

RWE plans to close the mines in Garzweiler and Hambach by 2030, and turn them into reservoirs to protect wetlands and stabilise the region’s groundwater.

The system will take water from the Rhine near Düsseldorf and Cologne and transport it 45km through pressurised underground pipes to gradually fill the large excavations.

Tosçelik Spiral Boru, a subsidiary of steelmaker Tosyali, will supply 106km of 2235mm- diameter pipes.

Fuat Tosyali, the chair of Tosyali, said the project had special meaning for his company because Tosyali was Europe’s biggest green steel pipe producer.

In Turkey, the company has 235MW of solar generating capacity on its roofs, which it claims is the biggest rooftop solar capacity in the world.

Lars Kulik, RWE’s chief technical officer, said: “For our project, we need large, high-quality pipes that will carry water for decades.

“Another focus of our tender was the manufacturer’s attitude towards the environment,” he added.

Work on the three-strand steel pipeline is scheduled to start at the end of this year and be finished by the end of 2029.

It will take years for the mines to fill and, in the meantime, RWE is using parts of the mines as solar farms.

  • Sign up to our free email newsletter to get construction stories from around the world sent to your inbox three times a week.

Further reading:

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News