Germany plays a pioneering role in the field of mine gas extraction and utilization – thanks not least of all to us. For many decades we have been planning, implementing, financing and operating the plants that convert mine gas into electricity and heat. This represents a technical challenge because mine gas is not a straightforward fuel for engines, for instance. Our know-how comprises the use of the gas both in gas engine plants and in gas turbines and boiler systems of all capacities.
With more than 100 plants in the Saar and Ruhr areas we are the market leaders in Germany. In the Saar area we operate our own mine gas network: it connects several extraction stations with the combined heat and power plants that operate on mine gas. A control center that is on 24/7 duty controls the network, which has a length of about 100 kilometers, and ensures that the required quantities of gas get to where they are needed. In North Rhine-Westphalia our joint ventures Minegas and Mingas-Power operate CHP modules for the production of energy from mine gas at a large number of distributed locations.
The conversion of mine gas into electricity and heat benefits the environment. The methane (CH4) contained in the mine gas has a 21 times greater impact on the climate compared with carbon dioxide (CO2). The region-wide extraction and exploitation of the mine gas from the deposits additionally improves safety above ground: hazards caused by uncontrolled gas flow from the old pits are eliminated.
We operate our largest mine gas-fired engine plant at the STEAG Völklingen/Fenne power plant site. In each of the 14 modules around 1,500 cubic meters of mine gas per hour can be used. The installed electric and thermal capacity, respectively, is in excess of 40 megawatts.