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Smoke billows from the chimneys of the Belchatow Power Station, Europe Smoke billows from the chimneys of the Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest coal-fired power plant, in Belchatow Oct. 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)  

Enviros tout Germany as ‘green’ leader while nation boosts coal production

Environmentalists are hailing Germany for its leadership in promoting green energy — even as the country boosts coal production to lower costs.

Sierra Club president Michael Brune tweeted out his his excitement that Germany was greenlighting a fourfold expansion of its offshore wind power capacity.

#Germany to expand its offshore #wind capacity fourfold in 2014 http://t.co/gv3iN1v3bY #100percentclean

— Michael Brune (@bruneski) February 17, 2014

Despite an expected 1.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy set to come online this year, German coal use has reached its highest level since 1990, reports the Financial Times. In 2013 the country used 162 billion kilowatt hours of brown coal, also known as lignite, the highest level since 1990 — when ex-communist East German power plants were still in operation.

Lignite coal use has been growing recently due to high power prices spawned by German policies to push renewable energy production. Germans pay 50 percent more for power than the rest of Europe.

Green energy generations from sources like wind and solar have been growing over the past decade, reaching 147 billion kilowatt hours last year, it’s still well below lignite coal power generation. Coal use has grown so much in the past few years that coal producers are may bulldoze the the eastern German village of Atterwasch in order to strip-mine the area for lignite.

“They would tear everything down, dig up the cemetery, blow up the church and cut down all the trees,” Christian Huschga, a screenwriter and father of two from Atterwasch, told National Geographic.

“The new mine is planned for 2030 to 2070—a time when coal power plants shouldn’t even exist anymore,” Huschga added. “It’s not right to take away people’s security and future for plans that shouldn’t be.”

Mmore towns could face the same fate as Atterwasch, as more planned coal-fired power is on the way. The western German town of Immerath was recently been made into a “ghost town” to because it stood in the way of an expansion of German utility RWE’s lignite-mining operations, reports BBC News.

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