Essential parts of our value chain – the mining of lignite and the generation of electricity at our sites – are often associated with considerable environmental impacts. Whether it’s nature or species conservation, waste management, preventing noise pollution or reducing particulate matter, RWE has honed its environmental protection policy over decades and it has become a fixed component of the company’s day-to-day business operations. This also includes the fact that we adopt new developments early on, which are also addressed by our stakeholders, among others. For example, we have taken a closer look at issues relating to biodiversity and water use, going far beyond the legal requirements.
Responsible water use and consistent waste management
Our climate protection strategy for the energy transition of the future
We pursue our commitment to protecting the climate and lowering our specific CO2 emissions with great consistency and expertise. Thanks to high levels of investment, we are able to continually upgrade our portfolio with modern, highly efficient power plants, thus also reducing our specific CO2 emissions from our conventional power plant portfolio both in absolute terms and relative to the amount of electricity generated.
The power plants are operated flexibly in order to make up for the fluctuations in feed-in from renewable energy sources – and this is essential to ensuring the success of the energy transition. With a clear plan to reduce CO2 emissions that is fully in line with the European climate protection targets, RWE makes an active contribution to protecting the climate. There is probably no other sector that reduces its CO2 emissions in such a consistent and targeted way.
Committed to the Kyoto Protocol and beyond
RWE has at its disposal broad technological expertise when it comes to the major emissions avoidance technologies. We are able to contribute our knowledge and experience through extensive R&D projects: Specialists develop emissions-control technologies and are able to position themselves as expert and reliable partners in the global energy transition in the field of CO2 management. We have attained a leading position in the mandatory and voluntary CO2 market, primarily as a result of our technical expertise. To date we have been involved in well over 100 climate protection initiatives worldwide – both as an investor and developer of our own projects and also by purchasing emissions certificates from projects developed by innovative local companies.
Recultivating former mines
Habitats and economic areas for many generations to come
The recultivation of former mines is of prime importance to RWE. The company has acquired decades of experience in this area and is constantly working to improve recultivation strategies with research institutes, universities and independent experts from the fields of environmental protection, forestry and agriculture.
Return of an ecologically intact landscape approved
Specialist authorities, the affected communities and the agriculture and forestry sector work together with the experts from RWE Power to create the plans for the recultivation of former mining areas. They all register their interests, which then have to be reconciled by the approving authority. We then make the plans a reality. All mining plans begin with the binding approval of the endpoint of the process – the return of an ecologically intact landscape. In many cases, the mine operator has, by the time that mining has ceased, created a major advantage for the forests and bodies of water, the landscape diversity and the biodiversity of the area.
Exemplary recultivation in the Rhenish coalfields
It is important to note that recultivation is not an attempt to recreate nature. Humans can only provide the impetus – nature itself has to do most of the work. The recultivation of the Rhenish coalfields is seen by experts worldwide as exemplary. One example is the diversion of a five-kilometre stretch of the river Inde in the district of Düren. Just a few kilometres away is the Inden mine: in the summer of 2005, it reached a five-kilometre section of what used to be the Inde riverbed. The river now leaves its old riverbed at Lamersdorf and freely flows for around twelve kilometres through a new river meadow that is up to 300 metres wide and located in the mine recultivation zone. Within a largely forested lowland, it can meander freely here before returning to its old levelled riverbed near Kirchberg.
Close partnership with German universities
For many years, scientists from German universities have been working together closely with the recultivation experts at RWE Power AG. To aid this cooperation, RWE Power AG set up the “Forschungsstelle Rekultivierung” (Recultivation Research Post) in Elsdorf. It serves as a point of contact, library and laboratory for the researchers’ studies. At two recultivation conferences hosted by RWE Power AG so far, international experts have been able to exchange their findings and experiences.