Project 14: Welzow Energy Landscape

Sun, wind and biomass

Lusatia, an »energy region« with a long tradition of lignite mining, looks set to be a vital and innovative location for the energy economy in the future too – but a more varied mix of energy sources and forms of energy generation will have to replace lignite, the previous main energy source. As part of this IBA project, a new and highly symbolic energy landscape is being created on a recultivated former open-cast mine site near Welzow – where biomass is produced using various methods.


The Welzow-Süd open cast mine has been producing lignite since the nineteen-fifties – although the diggers and conveyor bridges were continuously moved from sector to sector. The first sections to be mined have been worked out for years: they have already been discontinued as mine trenches and partially recultivated, although Lusatia’s sandy soil is not suitable for all agricultural and forestry purposes. However, the post-mining landscape is a major field of experimentation for various parties: for agriculture, forestry, science, engineering, and landscape architecture, this apparant moonscape represents an opportunity to try out new methods.


The IBA was particularly interested in the potentials and resources of the post-mining landscape as a »workshop for new landscapes« – applying innovative land use concepts for the future to wide expanses created by (or reemerging from) local landscapes. The role of post-mining landscapes in producing renewable energy – twenty-first-century energy – is highly topical. Shut off from agricultural and forestry use for decades, these new areas of land are potential test project sites. One such experimental concept is the Energiegarten®: a holistic approach that combines – and harvests – several regenerative energy products in one place, making use of an intelligent, carefully designed layout. The plan was to create such an »energy garden« in the Lusatian post-mining landscape in association with the company Verein Energiegarten e.V. The first assessment, in 2001, began the search for a suitable recultivated site.

A closer examination of various sites and discussions with landowners revealed that the »energy garden« concept could not be implemented without a special integrated planning framework, a legal framework, and financial support for the commercial initiative. It also became clear, however, that conditions in the region were perfect for cultivating renewable energy – not in an Energiegarten®, but in large-scale energy landscapes with wind turbines, renewable raw materials, and solar panels.

The profile of the »energy landscape« idea was further raised in 2003 – by the REKULA project, an EU-supported IBA project for »restructuring cultural landscapes.« As part of this process, the Welzow Energy Landscape was included in the IBA’s project list in 2005 – representing many other »energy landscape« projects within the region.

Various cultivation methods for biomass production are practically tested in Welzow. This is part of a research plan by the Brandenburgische Technische Universität (BTU) Cottbus, which is conducted under the aegis of the Vattenfall company and in collaboration with LMBV and the Terpe-Proschim agricultural company. Since 2005, successive crops of fast-growing »energy trees« (robinia) have been grown on an area of approximately 170 hectares in size – in various different land use forms, such as »energy forests« and agroforestry systems. The idea is to test the varying technical, economic, and ecological aspects of these differing cultivation systems in real-world conditions, in a »field test« whose results can be applied to other sites.

In 2007, as part of the »themed years« concept, the IBA and its regional partners launched a public campaign to raise awareness of the new Lusatian energy landscapes. The campaign was helped by a touring exhibition, which promoted exchanges of knowledge, and this exchange of experiences was continued by the recent EU project »Re-SOURCE«, which came up with a kind of »construction kit« of different possible cultivation methods and tested out their application within Europe.

The study topically compiled within the scope of the »Re-SOURCE« project to the biomass cultivation devotes itself to two main focuses:

  • Building up on an analysis of the man-made landscape Welzow south a total concept is compiled for the cultivation of growing again raw materials as well as a detailed plan for the energy scenery Welzow.

  • To parallel different cultivation systems of the biomass production are comparative confronted concerning her economic and ecological viability in the recultivation. The overview is intended as a guidance and helping hand, for the regional actors as well as for the European project partners.


The Welzow Energy Landscape has developed into an exemplary »laboratory landscape« for innovative land use systems. Beyond the original plot of ground, there are plans to look for other potential sites for fast-growing energy trees – some of them beyond the recultivated area. There are also plans to test whether it is possible to include other energy sources like wind power and photovoltaic systems.

This area will become a long-term productive and practical laboratory – not just for energy production, but for recreational and informational services. The area provides numerous and varied examples to illustrate the debate on how to »equip« future cultural landscapes. Will we continue to produce energy in highly productive but uniform energy plantations in the future, or can creative agriculture methods intelligently serve social and economic purposes while making economic sense?

The Welzow Energy Landscape – where coal was mined once and renewable energy is cultivated now – reveals the opportunities and potential released by transforming this »energy region.«

PDF to download: Summary "Biomass on recultivated stockpiles" (1.0 MB)

PDF to Download: Overview "Cultivation Systems" (Table) (1.1 MB)

PDF to download: Master Plan "Ring model" (203.7 KB)

PDF to download: Plan detailed "Energy landscape Welzow" (918.5 KB)

Our partners

BTU Cottbus, Lehrstuhl Bodenschutz und Rekultivierung
Vattenfall Europe Mining AG
Landwirte GmbH Terpe/Proschim
Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbauverwaltungs (LMBV) mbH


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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13