bbc.com 04 May, 2021 00:15 am

The end of the world's capital of brown coal

The end of the world's capital of brown coal
Germany is slowly shuttering its prolific lignite mines, which produce the least efficient type of coal. The ghostly towns in the mines' shadows may hold a lesson for how to move on.

I I'm standing in the middle of Old Manheim village, but my phone is telling me otherwise.Old Manheim – or just Manheim, as it was once known – is on the edge of Hambach, one of three open-cast mines in the region where lignite, a soft brown coal used almost exclusively in power generation, is extracted.The majority of Old Manheim's residents have had their houses purchased by energy company RWE, which operates the mines, and have moved to the freshly constructed New Manheim just down the road.Old Manheim was even occupied by activists at one point, and their "Hambi stays" graffiti can still be seen on the walls of some houses.

Old Manheim has been boarded up and scheduled for demolition to make way for the expansion of lignite mining (Credit: Jessica Bateman) But all of this is about to change.The residents of Old Manheim have moved out, and now live in nearby New Manheim (Credit: Jessica Bateman) Tasked with coming up with a strategy for how best to use the €15bn is Zukunftsagentur (Future Agents), a not-for-profit based in the nearby town of Jülich.

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