Renewable energy in Austria
- Wind Power: 2,841.6 MW (17.4%)
- Solar Power: 1,031 MW (6.3%)
- Biomass Power: 491 MW (3.0%)
- Hydro Power: 11,990.3 MW (73.3%)
- Geothermal Power: 0.9 MW (0.0%)
- Coal: 598 MW (2.7%)
- Other Renewables: 4,406.8 MW (20.2%)
- Hydro Power: 11,990.3 MW (55.0%)
- Gas: 4,467.7 MW (20.5%)
- Others (e.g. Wasteburning): 172.6 MW (0.8%)
- Oil: 177.9 MW (0.8%)
By the end of 2016 Austria already fulfilled their EU Renewables Directive goal for the year 2020. By 2016 renewable energies accounted to 33,5% of the final energy consumption in all sectors (heat, electricity, mobility). The renewable energy sector is also accountable for hosting 41591 jobs (full time equivalents) and creating a revenue of 7219 Mio€ in 2016.
- 1 Government Targets
- 2 Government policy
- 3 Sources of renewable electricity generation
- 3.1 Hydroelectricity
- 3.2 Wind power
- 3.3 Solar power
- 3.4 Biomass
- 3.5 Geothermal power
- 4 References
The new Government of Austria set 2017 an ambitious goal. First of all, they want 100% of renewable electricity by 2030 and secondly, proceed the decarbonization of the energy system by 2050. As of 2016, renewable energies account 71.7% in Austria. Achieving this goal can only succeed if the necessary organizational and economic framework conditions are also created in order to be able to continue to guarantee the security and the quality of supply. Overall, realistic goals should be defined, whose implementation and achievement can be underpinned by appropriate measures. It was calculated by the Austrian Energy Agency (AEA) that in order to achieve the target, the annual generation of electricity from renewable energy sources must be increased by up to 35 terawatt hours by 2030. Since hydropower in Austria is only possible to a limited extent, additional consumption must be covered by wind power and photovoltaic systems. This massive development of power generation from renewables, also requires a parallel large-scale expansion of electricity grids and in particular the storage capacity.
Decarbonization means a drastic reduction of carbon emissions and the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources. This will only be economically and technically possible through linking power, heat and mobility into an integrated energy system (sector coupling). It is not only in the field of electricity, but also to find appropriate measures in the other sectors to achieve the ambitious goals.
The current coalition government consisting of ÖVP and FPÖ have given environment and energy an important role in the new government program 2017-2022. According to both parties an ambitious climate and energy strategy is needed to ensure that the target of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 will be reached.
Related to renewable energies there is a law called the Green Electricity Act. The Green Electricity Act regulates the promotion of power generation from wind power, photovoltaics (from 5 kWp), solid, liquid or gaseous biomass, landfill or sewage gas and geothermal energy with feed-in tariffs and hydropower (up to 20 MW) with investment support. Each year, a fixed quota is available for new contracted renewable energy plants; the level of feed-in tariffs is set by ordinance. Financing is provided by a pay-as-you-go system through end consumers.
In the field of energy and climate policy, Austria has committed itself to achieving various objectives. The most important and relevant to the ENERGY2050 strategy process are:
- Emission reduction in sectors which are not subject to emissions trading (e.g. households, services, commerce, transport) by 16% by 2020 compared to 2005.
- Increasing the share of renewable energies in gross final energy consumption from 23% (2005) to 34% by 2020. Biofuels have a share target of 10% in the transport sector.
- Reduction of final energy consumption by 9% compared to the trend until 2016.
- EU policy target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % by 2050.
With regard to innovative energy-related technologies Austria has the following strategic documents and plans:
- Energy Strategy Austria: Introduced in the spring of 2010 by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Environment. It contains the energy strategy proposed measure to help implement the 20/20/20 target of the EU in Austria.
- Renewable Energy Action Plan: An action plan to achieve the 34% target. In essence, it is a concretization of the energy strategy. This goal was almost already achieved by the end of 2016 with and share of 33,5%  renewable contributing to the consumption of final energy in Austria.
- Energy efficiency action plan: For the implementation of the EU Final Energy Efficiency Directive, each Member State had to submit a national action plan by mid-2007. It defines the savings target, the measures and tools to achieve it and needs to be evaluated and revised in 2011 and 2014.
- Energy and climate protection programs of the federal states and municipalities: Many cities and municipalities have formulated strategies with varying degrees of liability for their respective sphere of influence.
Sources of renewable electricity generation
(main article Hydroelectricity in Austria)
The use of hydro power in Austria has a long tradition. At the beginning of the 20th century hydro power was mostly used for sawmills, mills and forging hammers. Today it is basically used to generate electricity, hydro electricity.
Because of the topographical situation, the Alps, Austria has a top position in international comparison, regarding the share on hydroelectricity. The range of hydro power plants installed in Austria goes from small hydro plants with a few kilowatts up to big plants with several 100 Megawatts. Every country has its own definition of small and big Hydropower, in the states of the European Union small hydro power is up to 10 MW of installed power.
Another differentiation of Hydro power plants is in run power plants and storage power plants. The share of Hydro power generation in the whole Austrian electricity mix in 2017 was 43% from run power plants and 21% from storage power Plants. Together these two sources delivered 64% of the Austrian electricity.
The field of green electricity has experienced a sustained upturn since 2003 thanks to the eco-electricity promotion system. This development will continue in 2017 and a gradual expansion of sustainable power generation will be realized. Hydro Power increased thanks to this system. There were built 148 big hydro power plants (>10 MW) from 2003 until 2016.
Over the next few years, growth will be dominated by repowering and small hydropower plants of up to 10 MW. There are high potentials above all in the western Alpine federal states and along the Danube in Upper and Lower Austria. The potential of large hydropower plants has been largely exhausted. In the Austrian hydropower industry, there were 6784 employees in 2016. The Austrian hydro power industry generated 2 billion euros in 2016.
Advantages of hydropower are the longevity of the plants, which results in the highest energy yield, over the life time, of all energy generation types. Hydro power plants are black bootable and could be used for island operation, like they were used for in the beginning of hydroelectricity. With the increasing renewable energies in the energy mix and volatile sources like wind and photovoltaic, the possibility of power storage becomes more and more important. With hydro storage power plants the volatility can be compensated. In the European grid this possibility can be used beyond state borders. Germany can for example export overcapacities of PV and Wind Power to Austria which fills up the Pump storage plants and delivers the electricity back when it’s needed in Germany.
(main article Wind power in Austria)
Wind energy is the biggest renewable electricity source in Austria after Hydro Power. Around 13% (2,8 GW of 21,8 GW) of the total installed capacity is accountable to wind power
|Wind power capacity in MW|
Final energy consumption provided by Wind energy
Wind energy is only contributing to the renewable final energy consumption through electricity production. In 2016 Wind power in Austria contributed 4.8% (5350 GWh of 112,260 GWh) to the total final energy consumption and 13% (5350 GWh of 51951 GWh) to the renewable electricity generation.
Employment and revenue
Wind power in Austria employed around 11% of the renewable Industry and generated 993 Mio € (13,8% => 993 Mio € of 7219 Mio € generated by the renewable sector) of revenue in 2016.
(main article Solar power in Austria)
Installed capacity (Solar PV)
With a share of 5% (= 1.031 GW) of the 21.813 GW  installed capacity, Solar energy is one prominent source of renewable energy in Austria.
|Solar PV capacity in KW|
Final energy consumption provided by Solar energy
Of the 112,260 GWh final energy consumption (heat, electricity, mobility) provided by renewable resources, Solar energy had a combined energy production of 3439 GWh (3%) in 2016 (1096 GWh electricity through Solar PV and 2130 GWh through Solar heat).
Employment and revenue
Around 5,6% of all the people working in the renewable energy sector in Austria were employed by Solar thermal energy and around 8,2% were employed by Solar PV. This adds up to 13,8% of the total of 41 working in Solar energy sector. This sector generated a combined revenue of 896 Mio € (896 Mio € of 7219 Mio € => 12,4%)
Bioenergy in Austria is mainly contributing to the renewable heating sector with producing 58% of the renewable heat (31386 GWh of 53585 GWh) consumed. Ranking third in electricity production (3226 GWh of 51591 GWh) after Hydro power and wind energy and being the only source of biofuels for the transport sector (6451 GWh), Biomass energy has a total share of the final energy consumed and provided by renewables of 36.5%, even outranking hydropower (36,4%) by a little bit.
Remarkable is that the solid biomass sector almost employs half of the renewable energy sector with roughly 50% of the workforce. All sectors combined, Bioenergy provides work to 53,4% of workers in the whole renewable sector. In comparison hydro energy only employs 16% of the renewable workforce but Is contributing with 36,4% to the final energy consumption.
The Revenue created by bio energy (solid,fluid,gaseous) was 2764 Mio € (38% => 2764 Mio € of 7219 Mio € generated by the renewable sector)
Geothermal Power is the stored heat inside the earth. It also counts to the renewable energies and comes from the decay of natural radioisotopes in the rock of the earth's crust and from the heat exchange with the deeper Earth's interior. The heat can be used directly or by combined heat and power to generate electricity. There are opened and closed systems to use geothermal power, but only the opened system really matters in the worldwide use because it’s more efficient. Water is extracted from hot earth layers directly or is artificially pressed into the underground and then extracted back up in form of heated water or steam. With this technique systems in the Megawatt range are possible.
In Austria geothermal power has a small potential from 2.000 MW thermal and 7 MW electric. Geothermal power is mainly used for thermal baths. Only 25% of the deep drillings in Austria from 1977 until 2004 were used for electricity generation.
In 2016 0,02 GWh of electricity (of gross end energy consumption) were delivered by geothermal plants in Austria. With a share of 0,1% (83 GWh) of the howl Austrian energy consumption in 2016, geothermal power plays a small role. It shows how the thermal use overweight’s the electricity use of geothermal power.
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