1. Introduction

Methane (CH4) is produced in coal mining and is thus an unavoidable accompaniment of it. In the Federal Republic of Germany there are annually 1.5 to 1.7 billion m3 CH4 that escape from the mining industry regions. (Source: Schriften des Forschungszentrums Jülich 1998).

Besides, methane is produced in abandoned mines. Figures from the year 1984 of the Landesoberbergamt NRW say there arise 120 millions m³ methane per year alone from abandoned mines in North-Rhine-Westphalia. Occasionally, gas from active mines is used by mining industry companies.

However, the use of methane from abandoned mines has taken place so far only in few pilot projects.

After the increasing closing of mines, the interest in methane as a possible additional source of energy has constantly grown. The development of a new operating field can be presently observed. Studies are done in the fields of exploration, danger warning as well as the use of methane e.g. for current and heat production. There are many possibilities for the development of innovative concepts which offer the chance of international marketing.

2. The federation

The syndicate methane IVG e.V. was created in 1999 with the aim of offering the members a work basis in this new topic area. The federation summarizes the interests of the members and represents them in public.

New findings in this still to a large extent unexplored area are made accessible for the members, so that a practice-oriented application is made possible.

In addition to that, the following aims are pursued:

Support of scienntific research

  • Compilation of guidelines

  • Advice in technical, economic and legal questions

  • Public relations

  • Defending of conceptions and demands of the federation in legal questions

  • Representing the members in comittees of other organizations

3. Federation activities

3.1 Use of methane

Methane from abandoned mines can be used for current and heat production. The use of methane has a double protection effect, since the gas is prevented from escaping into the atmosphere and used for energy production.


Unfortunately, the use of methane (e.g. for generation of current) is hardly possible in Germany due to uneconomic conditions. So far only two plants have been established, and their realization has only been possible by donations of the Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) and the Ministry for Economics, Middle class, Technology and Traffic North-Rhine-Westphalia (MWMTV North-Rhine-Westphalia).

The federation supports the generation of current from methane and its promotion by the law of current generated from renewThe bill is already before the house and there is strong public interest in this topic.


The admission of methane into this law is an important condition for careful energy production.

3.2 Compilation of guidelines

The federation compiles guidelines for:


Safety engineering

Practice results and reports on plants are summarized and brought in agreement with the safety requirements from similar areas of application, e.g. dump gas plants. It is to be guaranteed that new plants follow a standardized security concept. The aim is to optimize the costs of the equipment technology and to create a work basis for planning, investigation, permission, execution, establishment and production.


Field demarcation

At present there are no figures concerning gas ways in connection with abandoned mines. Gas fields are likely to effect each other. In some cases, a direct connection and mutual influence between different gas fields is assumed.

The federation compiles guidelines and evaluation criteria for the definition of effect ranges, suction pressure control and field demarcation.

3.3 Consultation

The federation advises its members and other interested groups in all questions concerning the use of methane, danger warning and in all technical, organizational and legal questions. It collects data and documentation material and seizes operational experience of methane plants for the production of analyses on the functionality of the equipment and the providing of a market review.

3.4 Public relations

The public is informed on the work of the federation and the interests of the members in congress and fairs, publications and reports on the federation activities.

4. Members of the association

The members are from economy, science and public. Their common operating field is methane, which includes among other things environmental and climatic protection, energy engineering, danger warning in case of escaping methane, safety engineering, landscape planning, project development as well as science and research. Members have to be active on the topic of methane or have knowledge, experience or influence in one or more of the federation’s branches.


5. Expected development

In context with the international methane conference 2000, several lectures intend to clarify the complexity of the topic and deal with many open questions. The IVG will accompany the

development of this new market segment and offer its members a forum for the exchange of experience and interest. The ratification of the draft of the law on renewable energy will help the initiation of future projects. The syndicate methane IVG e.V. hopes to win many new members.



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