I stopped off today on my way to Aachen to have a look at the open cast lignite mine at Garzweiler. Apparently there’s an official viewing platform, but the directions I got from the official brochure seemed to bear no relation to the layout of the actual roads (or maybe I was in the wrong place) so I got to the edge of the mine by yomping across a ploughed field.
It is difficult to fully capture the impression of suddenly happening on a gigantic hole in the ground. The landscape all around is completely flat, so as you approach you can’t even tell it’s there – and then all of a sudden there is a massive…. and I mean really extraordinarily huge… hole with machines the size of multi-storey car-parks scooping away at the earth as though it were ice-cream.
There is a massive network of conveyor belts carrying away the rubble which is being dug out. It looks from the edge of the pit rather like an insane model railway.
The machinery used is so large that it feels more like a science fiction film than real life.
Surely there must be an easier (and less destructive) way to generate electricity than this!