Today's subject: Liquefaction of hard coal


Because of the increase in prices for the different fuel and oil products another option has been made a subject of discussion more frequently in the last weeks - the liquefaction of hard coal. In the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century different methods have been developped to produce fuel or similar materials from hard coal. The exposition on this page is based on the publication "Liquefaction of coal is of current interest again" (translated title) that can be found and downloaded at

Because of what I mentionned before the question has to be answered whether the liquefaction of hard coal is an interesting option for Germany, as well, and whether this possibility is an additional argument supporting the German hard coal mining industry and the subsidies payed by the government. From the 1970s until to the 1980s some plants for the liquefaction of coal have been planned in Germany. Following the estimates at that time the plants had needed about 12 mio. tons of hard coal per year, but unluckily they have never been built. A very small plant that had been built for research by the Deutsche Montan Technologie (DMT) was sold to China (!) not long ago.

In other countries the situation is different: In South Africa there is a plant producing about 175.000 barrels of fuel per day and China is interested in corresponding technologies, as well. As you can see, this subject is getting more and more important. Especially the fact that countries like China are interested in the technology should draw our attention to that subject.

Only if Germany has the corresponding knowledge it will be able to benefit from that technology - with the result of two different advantages: First concerning the exports. If the knowledge acquired several years ago is reactivated and updated the German companies will be able to benefit from these comparative advantages on the international markets. To be a pioneer for certain technologies always offers the possibility to maximize profits and as a result of that an economy's employment will increase. These positive effects affect the German hard coal mining industry as well as its supplyers.

The second positive aspect is the safe domestic energy supply. The more collieries produce hard coal in Germany, the better and faster is the access to the German hard coal deposits. Additionally the supply with oil and related products is stabilized and Germany gets more independent from the OPEC. All of these factors make Germany be less dependent from the international markets for crude oil and cause a much stronger position during negotiations. As a consequence, this does not just ensure the German supply in the case of a crises, but should also cause a fall in the general prices for oil and related materials. Finally, this should have positive effects on the German economic growth and the private consumption.

As a summary of what is written before it can be said that Germany should focus on the liquefaction of hard coal in the next months and years. This is justified by the positive effects caused by that technology. Additionally this is a very strong argument for a support of the German hard coal mining industry.

This is why Pro-Bergbau supports a reactivation of the research about the liquefaction of hard coal - the target is a safe supply and a vivid German hard coal mining industry.