The whole system moves in perfect harmony here. In the steam generator furnace the lignite dust burns at around 1,000ºC and heats up the so-called feed water. The resulting steam drives several turbine components. Power is thus generated, with part of the heat feeding the regional heating network. The neighbouring briquette factory and a paper factory also use steam from the power station processes. The rest is condensed back into water and returns to the steam generator where the cycle begins anew. That is the theory. In practice it is more complicated – and visitors can now find out more about this complex process in the multimedia information centre at the Schwarze Pumpe power station near Spremberg in Lusatia. The high-capacity dual-block facility is one of the most modern of its kind in the world. Thanks to its state-of-the-art technology it can produce around one kilowatt hour of electricity from one kilogram of lignite. A thrilling tour around this hi-tech operational facility includes a stop-off at a 161-metre high viewing platform. The glazed enclosure offers an impressive panorama of the nearby Welzow-Süd opencast mine and the surrounding nascent Lusatian Lakeland.
The name Schwarze Pumpe is taken from an inn that used to occupy the site. Between 1955 and 1959 Europe’s largest lignite processing factory complex was established on the site. The newly constructed power station was a product of the post-reunification era. In 1997, after just four years of construction, the futuristic-looking silver-grey industrial facility became operational. It processes up to 36,000 tonnes of lignite from the Welzow-Süd and Nochten opencast mines every day. Its environmental protection systems meet the highest technological specifications. Run by the Vattenfall energy company, the power station serves first and foremost to supply the public with electricity.