Geothermal in Austria

Installed capacity920kW

Production0.09ktoe per year

The balneological importance attached to the country’s spas together with the restrictions imposed by the Austrian Water Law, have somewhat impeded the progress of development of the geothermal resource. Generally, there has been a lack of public interest and support; the management of spas have expressed concern for the quality of water supplied which could possibly be affected by further and diversified use of the resource and the difficulty of combining different uses at new sites have all contributed to this lack of progress. In the case of the Water Law, it is stated that the groundwater below the land belongs to the landowner and this can be highly problematical when deviated drilling is necessary. In the late 1990s the European Union’s THERMIE programme provided support for the Simbach-Braunau scheme, a cross-border joint venture between South Germany and Upper Austria – one of the largest district heating schemes in Europe. An installed capacity of over 30 MW serves five hundred people with some 9.3 MW of power.

Seven deep boreholes were drilled in the country recently, all of which were used to supply heat for balneological purposes. No other geothermal projects were undertaken in Austria since 2005 due to lack of public support and low feed-in tariffs for electric power. However, the number of ground source heat pumps has shown a steady increase with the estimated number of units at 50,000 having a capacity of 600 MWt and producing 800 GWh/yr. As in most countries the data on geothermal heat pumps are hard to obtain as only groundwater wells are documented with the authorities. Future projects are expected in the Vienna basin near the capital and in the Austrian Molasse Basin. Geothermal heat pumps are expected to increase with more than 50% of the new family houses to have units installed.