Hydroelectric power as an energy source
At present, more than 670 run-of-river power plants and some 1,800 small-scale hydropower stations are in operation, which generate approx. 60% of Austria’s electricity needs. Austria is number one in Europe when it comes to utilizing hydropower, and offers bundled know-how and a dynamic business environment to innovative companies.
Growing importance of bioenergy
The importance of bioenergy in Austria has steadily grown in recent years. It is the most important renewable energy source, with a share of 58%. The share of bioenergy as a percentage of total energy consumption rose from 9% in 1990 to 17% in 2013 although energy consumption in Austria during this period actually climbed by one-third. In line with EU regulations, renewable energies must comprise 34% of the energy mix by the year 2020. At present, renewable energy sources account of 32.5% of the Austrian energy mix. Provided that conditions are suitable, a much higher share than the stipulated level of 34% may be reached by 2020 (refer to the Austrian Biomass Association), thus further reducing the share of fossil fuels.
A total of 1,119 wind power plants in Austria with a total output of 2,408.6 MW generated clean and environmentally friendly electricity for more than 1.5 million households in 2015, or 40% of all Austrian households - see Windenergie in Österreich (wind energy in Austria).
Dynamic solar industry
Within a period of only eight years, from 2002 to 2010, the annual production of solar collectors in Austria increased almost four times over. At the end of 2014, 5.2 million square meters of solar collectors already generated a thermal output of 3,616 MW from clean solar energy – see Austria Solar.
The total output of newly installed photovoltaic facilities in Austria in 2015 declined slightly from 2014. In 2015, grid-connected photovoltaic plants with a total output of 151,806 kW peak and self-sufficient photovoltaic facilities with an output of 46 kW peak were installed. On balance, this comprises growth of 151,851 kW peak. As a result, total output of all photovoltaic facilities in Austria amounted to 937.1 MW peak at the end of 2015 – see Innovative Energietechnologien in Österreich Marktentwicklung 2015 (Innovative energy technologies in Austria: market development in 2015).
High level of funding
The Green Electricity Act 2012 served as a further incentive to expand the number of facilities producing green electricity. As a result, funding volume doubled to about EUR 50 million. This offensive is designed to boost the share of electricity consumption generated by renewables to 85% by the year 2020, a top performance in global comparison. Moreover, some 3,300 experts in Austria focus on smart grids i.e. intelligent network management on the basis of modern information and communication technologies. The objective is to equip 80% of Austrian households with intelligent meters, also known as smart meters, in the years ahead (see Smart Grids Austria).