Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Wind Country Notes
Since the mid-1970s the production of renewable energy has grown steadily and has reached a stage where it currently generates 63% of Austria's electricity. Hydropower supplies the majority share and to date the other renewable energies have played a minor role. With a view to changing this balance and taking into consideration the technologies available, wind power - largely available during the winter months - could complement hydro - at its lowest during the winter.
The first wind measurements were conducted in the late 1980s, discussions regarding feed-in tariffs began in 1991 and the first funding programmes commenced in 1994. These actions brought about the first modern wind turbines in 1996.
After growing slowly during the second half of the 1990s, Austria's total installed wind capacity has been rising steadily, from 606 MW at end-2004 to 819 MW by end-2005 and 965 MW by end-2006. Europe's highest wind park was officially opened in 2003. Situated at 1 900 m, the Tauernwindpark Oberzeiring consists of 11 turbines; its total 19.25 MW capacity is expected to produce 40 GWh/yr.
Although Austria does not manufacture wind turbines, it does make important components for the world's biggest producers of wind generators.
The Eco-electricity Act (Ökostromgesetz) of July 2002 came into effect on 1 January 2003. The law's objective is to raise the share of renewables to 78.1% of Austrian electricity consumption by 2010 and the non-hydro portion (the so-called 'new renewable resources') to 4% by 1 January 2008. The Act lays down an Austria-wide uniform purchasing and payment obligation for power suppliers concerning energy from renewable sources, defined as wind, sun, global heat, hydroelectric power, biomass, landfill gas, sewer gas and biogas. The subsidies for eco-electricity are funded via an extra charge on the electricity price. The Tariff Ordinance (Tarifverordnung) to the Eco-electricity Act provides for attractive and nationally uniform feed-in tariffs for electricity from new eco-electricity plants approved up to 2004.
On 23 May 2006 the National Council adopted an amendment to the Eco-electricity Act. The Amendment envisages a 10% share of so-called new renewable resources in power production in Austria by 2010. It refers exclusively to plants to be newly established and provides for a subsidy until 2011. The annual subsidy amounts to € 17 million, of which 30% is apportioned to biogas plants, 30% to biomass plants, 30% to wind energy plants and 10% to other new renewable resources (e.g. photovoltaics). The feed-in tariffs for these plants have to be refixed every year, with tariffs becoming lower in later years. The tariff applying at the time of the conclusion of the contract applies for 10 years. In the 11th year only, 75% and in the 12th year only, 50% of the respective tariff is to be paid, but at least the market price. The Eco-electricity Amendment also lays down criteria of energy efficiency and minimum full load hours for the individual types of energy.