Hydroelectric power as an energy source
At present, more than 700 run-of-river power plants and some 3,100 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 59 %. The share of bioenergy as a percentage of total energy consumption rose from 9 % in 1990 to 17 % in 2015 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 32.8 % 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 1,260 wind power plants in Austria with a total output of 2,844 MW generated clean and environmentally friendly electricity for more than 1.75 million households in 2017, or 40 % of all Austrian households - see Windenergie in Österreich (wind energy in Austria).
Dynamic solar industry
In 2016, 95 % of installed solar thermal systems was produced in Austria. Solar heat ranks among the sectors with the highest value generation in the country. On balance, collectors with a thermal output of 450 MW (643,000 m²) were manufactured. 83 % of production was exported, above all to Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Revenue of EUR 97 million was generated on the basis of a newly installed thermal output of 78 MW (112,000 m²) alongside additional export revenue of EUR 100 million. (Refer to Austria Solar)
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.
Grid-connected photovoltaic systems with a total output of 154,802 kWpeak and stand-alone systems with a total output of about 952 kWpeak were installed. All in all, this represents an increase of 155,754 kWpeak, which resulted in an accumulated output of about 1,096 MWpeak from all photovoltaic plants in the country as at the end of 2016. The photovoltaic facilities in operation in Austria generated 1,096 GWh of electricity in 2016 and thus reduced CO₂ emissions by 920,653 tons. (Refer to Innovative Energietechnologien in Österreich Marktentwicklung 2016 (Innovative Energy Technologies in Austria: Market Development in 2016).
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).
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