Coal Mine Rehab Creates Tropical Paradise in Germany
Here’s an interesting idea. Take an old coal field and rehab it inside a solar powered glasshouse the size of a city block.
Then build freestanding buildings inside the outer shell of glass and solar cells. In addition to power from solar cells, capture and use leftover methane vented from the old mine for additional power generation.
But the extensive solar power system on its own creates enough power for far more than this complex. 1 Megawatt is about the size of a city sized coal power station. So the energy generated on this roof not only supplies power to the complex itself but also supplies homes in the area. The outer shell is huge – almost 123,200 square feet; more than enough space for a 1 megawatt solar power station.
The combination of glass and solar makes for a very pleasant micro-climate within its confines. In fact the interior atmosphere creates a little bit of the tropics — even in Germany.
The access of fresh air from the outside is made possible with a very extensive system of shutters for ventilation control. In the summer, louvered openings in the glass structureâ€™s lower quadrants bring in cool air at ground level, pushing out the hot air that rises to the roof through roof vents.
In the winter, concrete and gravel on the ground act as a thermal heat sink — receptive to the abundant sunlight coming in through the side windows and storing the thermal warmth in the concrete, gradually releasing it to warm the interior atmosphere. Rainwater collected from the roof is used to clean the glass and solar panels, flush the toilets and outside – to water lawns.
The result is a startlingly tropical little corner of Germany. The pool also acts as a heat sink and the evaporation serves to humidify and warm the air in the complex. There can’t be too many places in Germany where one would loll outside a pool in deck chairs.