Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
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.
The aggregate installed capacity of 62 MWt is utilised for direct applications such as district heating (45 MWt), bathing and swimming (3 MWt), industrial process heat (2 MWt), the heating of greenhouses (2 MWt) and electricity (Organic Rankine Cycle) (11 MWt).
Two small binary power plants, Altheim and Blumau, were brought into operation in 2000 and 2001 respectively.
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.
In addition, it has been estimated that there are in the order of 25 000 heat pump installations throughout the country.