Degree of reliance on imported energy:
Austria imports most of its oil from Kazakhstan. The imported crude oil is primarily transported via the Adria Wien Pipeline (AWP) to the refinery in Schwechat. The largest Austrian petroleum company, OMV AG, is 31.5%-owned by the state and it is the biggest integrated petroleum company in Central Europe. It undertakes petroleum exploration and production (E&P), refining, wholesale and retail sales, both domestically and internationally. Its biggest E&P activities are carried out in Austria and Romania. The company holds significant stakes in other petroleum companies abroad – for example, it owns a majority of share in Petrom SA (the largest petroleum company in Romania) and has a 97% stake in Petrol Ofisi (a leading retail and commercial petroleum company in Turkey).
Main sources of Energy:
Austria has a relatively large share of renewable energy in its total primary energy supply (TPES). In 2010, over 28% of TPES in Austria was produced from renewable sources — about 17% from wind, solar and geothermal power, 10% from hydropower and 2% from combustible waste. Fossil fuels — comprised of oil, natural gas and coal (37%, 25% and 10%, respectively) — accounted for the remaining 70% of TPES. Around 30% of Austria’s energy needs are produced domestically. Despite having a significant share of fossil fuels in TPES, Austria produces about two-thirds of its electricity from renewable-energy sources.
Extent of the network:
Austria occupies a central position in the EU electricity network and is connected to all of its neighbouring countries, with the exception of the Slovak Republic.
The need for more interconnections with Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland is considerable. The current high levels of utilisation at the Czech/Austrian border may be the result of high loop flows, caused by the generation situation in Germany.
Potential for Renewable Energy:
Solar thermal power has been heavily supported at state level for decades and, alongside Greece, Austria is one of the countries with the highest square meterage of collectors per head of population.
Potential for Energy Efficiency:
Energy intensities of the Austrian economy did not show substantial changes in the period from 1990 to 2010, where primary energy intensity decreased by 10.7%, and final energy intensity by 6.6%. This can be attributed to a decreasing in overall energy efficiency in the industrial sector following 2007, and the weak economic situation in 2009, contributed to a 9% fall in industry energy efficiency in that period.
As of 2013, notable areas for improvement in the Austrian economy include in appliances and in the transport sector. The current National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) provides little information on policies or measures to address appliance efficiency, aside from advice and information programs and a current mandatory standard to remove the least efficient appliances, however no measure are planned in the coming period. In transport, there is a lack of policy that takes energy efficiency into account, and no binding savings target for the sector to 2020. Austria also suffers from “fuel tourism”, due to their lower fuel taxes relative to neighbouring countries increasing the purchase of Austrian fuel by large transport outfits, increasing the overall consumption of the sector, particularly following the 2009 economic downturn.
Structure / extent of competition:
Austrian Power Grid AG (APG) is the main Austrian electricity TSO, owning approximately 94% of the Austrian high-voltage electricity grid (6 454 km) and operating it as well. APG has been certified as an Independent Transmission Operator (ITO). At distribution level in the electricity sector, there are approximately 130 DSOs. Legal ownership unbundling has so far been the preferred unbundling model, leaving DSOs rather limited control over the power grids, which they rent from a vertically integrated producer and/or supplier.
Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy:
All renewable electricity generation technologies are eligible for the Austrian feed-in tariff. In contrast to the tariff, subsidies are available for small and medium-sized hydro-electric power stations only.
- Feed-in tariff. In Austria, electricity from renewable sources is supported mainly through a feed-in tariff, which is set out in the ÖSG 2012 and the regulations related thereto. The operators of renewable energy plants are entitled against the government purchasing agency, the so-called Ökostromabwicklungsstelle (hereinafter called "Clearing and Settlement Agency"), to the conclusion of a contract on the purchase of the electricity they produce ("obligation to enter into a contract").
- Subsidy I. The construction of small and medium-sized hydro-electric power stations is subsidised by investment grants. The legal basis of these grants is the ÖSG 2012 in conjunction with the applicable subsidy directive.
- Subsidy II. Additionally to the feed-in tariff, an investment subsidy is granted for PV installations on buildings exceeding 5 kW.
- Subsidy III. Furthermore, subsidies are granted for small PV installations with a maximum capacity of 5 kW.
Current energy debates or legislation:
Major energy studies:
European Energy Network
Austria is member of the EnR, which is a voluntary network of European energy agencies which aims at promoting sustainable energy good and best practice. EnR also strengthens cooperation between members and other key European actors on all sustainable energy issues (energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy).
Role of government:
Austria’s energy policy is simultaneously conducted at two levels, the federal and the joint federal/state levels. The federal Constitution allocates responsibilities either to the federal level or to the joint federal and state level. Energy policy is formulated and implemented in close co-operation with the social partner organisations, which represent important groups of society (employers, employees, agriculture), and in dialogue with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the public. At the regional level, the governments of the nine states have responsibility for policy making, setting subsidy levels, and implementing regulatory control of energy companies. Most of the states have energy agencies undertaking activities similar to that of the Austrian Energy Agency.
- Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour: the main government institution responsible for energy matters at the federal level e.g. for the “Gewerbeordnung” and “ELWOG”
- Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management: responsible for environmental protection, including climate change and emissions from combustion e.g. for the “Abfallwirtschaftsgesetz”
- Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology: responsible for transport policy and energy R&D
- Federal Ministry of Finance: responsible of setting energy taxes
- The approval of plants for the production of energy from renewable sources falls within the jurisdiction of the district administrative authority. By the one-stop-shop principle, there is only one authority as a focal point for the approval process.
Government agencies in sustainable energy:
ESV - Upper-Austria Energy Agency (O.Ö. Energiesparverband)
Energy planning procedures:
The new Green Electricity Act 2012 increases the funding volume to about EUR 50 million, thus serving as a further incentive to further expand the number of facilities producing green electricity. This offensive is designed to boost the share of electricity consumption generated by renewable energy sources to 85% by the year 2020, a top performance in global comparison. Moreover, some 3,300 experts in Austria are focusing on smart grids i.e. the intelligent network management on the basis of modern information and communication technologies. The objective is to equip 80% of Austrian households with smart meters, in the years ahead.
In July 2002 the Austrian Parliament adopted a new legislation to comply with the RES-E directive, the Ökostromgesetz/Green Electricity Act (Official Journal BGBl I 2002/244). This act implements a feed-in system for RES and makes it mandatory to purchase "green” electricity. Compared to the former Electricity Act ElWOG (Official Journal BGBl I 2000/121) the feed-in system also applies to small hydroelectric power plants (up to 10 MW). Before the Green Electricity Act came into force there was a system of green certificates for small hydropower plants. The Green Electricity Act introduced a system of guarantees of origin. Grid operators are obliged to give electronic proof of origin to RES-producers, with the provincial head (Landeshauptmann) in charge of this system.
A fast-track planning procedure for producers of renewable electricity does not exist. The Provincial governments are (more or less) in charge of the procedure and many different permissions have to be obtained (electricity act, protection of landscape, regional development plan, security of aviation). Only projects with a size of more than 20 MW enjoy a centralised planning procedure at the provincial government level. Grid access is also a stumbling block in RE system planning, with no guarantees available for RE operators regarding transmission or distribution of RES-E, and the liability for all grid reinforcements and connections resting with the RE producer.
National Renewable Energy Action Plan
Under Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Commission, the Austrian government created the 2010 NREAP, based on the Austrian Energy Strategy 2010. Targets under this plan stretch to 2020, and include:
- A 34% target share of renewable energy in gross final consumption,
- 13% reductions in final energy consumption and an 18% increase in renewable energy volume (based on 2008 levels),
- A 10% target for biofuels in the share of renewable energy
- A targeted 9,217 ktoe of energy from renewable sources by 2020
Energy regulator Date of creation:
E-Control (ECG) is the government regulator for electricity and natural gas markets in Austria. It was founded in 2001 on the basis of the Energy Liberalisation Act. On 3 March 2011, the company was transformed into a public authority by virtue of the E-Control-Gesetz (E-Control Act).
Degree of independence:
E-Control is an independent regulatory authority.
Regulatory framework for sustainable energy:
In Austria, electricity from renewable sources is granted access to the grid according to the general legislation on energy and according to non-discriminatory principles. Only the use of the grid by electricity from renewable energy sources is subject to a specific order. When grid capacity is insufficient, grid operators are obliged to give priority transmission to electricity from renewable sources.
- ÖSG 2012 (Bundesgesetz, mit dem Neuregelungen auf dem Gebiet der Elektrizitätserzeugung aus Erneuerbaren Energieträgern und auf dem Gebiet der Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung erlassen werden - Federal Act on the Support of Electricity Produced from Renewable Energy Sources)
- Subsidy Directive 2012 (Förderungsrichtlinien 2012 für die Gewährung von Investitionszuschüssen gemäß § 24 bis § 27 Ökostromgesetz für die Errichtung von KWK-Anlagen auf der Basis von Ablauge, Kleinwasserkraftanlagen und mittleren Wasserkraftwerken sowie § 7 KWK-Gesetz zur Errichtung von KWK-Anlagen - Subsidy Directive 2012 on the granting of investment subsidies, as set out in § 12, § 12a and § 13a of the ÖSG 2012, for the construction of CHP plants and small and medium-sized hydro-power plants)
- Ökostromverordnung 2012 (Verordnung, mit der Preise für die Abnahme elektrischer Energie aus Ökostromanlagen auf Grund von Verträgen festgesetzt werden, zu deren Abschluss die Ökostromabwicklungsstelle im Jahr 2012 verpflichtet ist - Regulation setting the prices for the purchase of electricity generated by green power plants as set out in the purchase agreements the Clearing and Settlement Agency is obliged to enter into in 2012)
- PV Guidelines 2013 (Leitfaden Photovoltaik-Anlagen 2013).
E-Control is entrusted with the task of monitoring, accompanying and, if necessary, regulating the liberalisation of the Austrian electricity and gas markets.
- Setting the framework:
- establishing market rules for competition
- regulating network tariffs
- Exercising market oversight:
- identifying and remedying competition violations
- tracking and analysing market development
Role of government department in energy regulation:
As of 3 March 2011, E-Control was transformed into a public authority, but remains independent from the government. Other government agencies are only involved in energy regulation when breaches of market competition rules occur, in which case the Federal Competition Authority and Federal Cartel Prosecutor can be called upon by E-Control for their involvement.
Stop-and-go support policy
EWEA (2010): EU Energy Policy to 2050. Available at: http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/ewea_documents/documents/publications/reports/EWEA_EU_Energy_Policy_to_2050.pdf [Accessed 30th November]
E-Control website (2014): Projects. Available at: http://www.e-control.at/en/projects [Accessed 24th January]
Austrian Wind Energy Association website (2014): Wind Energy in Austria. Available at: http://www.igwindkraft.at/index.php?mdoc_id=1000741 [Accessed 23rd January]
European Commission website (2014): Renewable Energy Action Plans and Forecasts. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/action_plan_en.htm [Accessed 23rd January]
ODYSSEE-MURE (2010): Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Austria. Available at: http://www.odyssee-indicators.org/publications/PDF/austria_nr.pdf [Accessed 23rd January]
Energy Efficiency Watch (2013): Country Report - Austria. Available at: http://www.energy-efficiency-watch.org/fileadmin/eew_documents/Documents/EEW2/Austria.pdf [Accessed 23rd January]