Europe 2020 targets - Austria

AUSTRIA: IG Windkraft, Austria's wind energy association is adamant that the country's renewable energy targets of reaching 2.58GW by 2020, compared with just over 1GW at the end of 2010, cannot be achieved within the framework of the current Eco-Electricity Act. "The law contains arrangements that limit and hinder developments. An improvement to the act is urgently needed," says Stefan Moidl, managing director of the association. Encouragingly, he adds, constructive talks are underway with officials at the ministries for environment, economy and energy

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A major obstacle is the limit on support funds to finance guaranteed feed-in tariffs. Currently, the act foresees €18.9 million is divided between wind, biogas and biomass projects. In 2010, the funds provided for 90MW of wind capacity, an annual amount that would fall short of providing an additional 950MW by 2015, as proposed in the national plan. 

Stability urgently needed

The association makes 15 recommendations for the revision of the Eco-Electricity Act, currently under discussion and likely to be passed in June 2011. These include raising the €21 million support cap and the creation of long-term and stable framework conditions, in particular setting feed-in tariffs for a longer period, rather than each year. Further, new projects should be eligible for the feed-in tariff for a 15-year period instead of the current 13 years, it says, starting from when the tariff is available and not from the commissioning date. Some turbines have been commissioned after completion of permitting and grid connections but are then stuck on the waiting list of projects registered with the government to receive the feed-in tariff.

Austria’s national plan requires an average annual installation rate of 157MW but over the past five years progress has sharply declined, from 218MW in 2005 and 146MW in 2006, when support conditions were still favourable, to zero in 2009 after legislative change. A revision of the Eco-Electricity Act in late 2009 brought a slight improvement in 2010, so this year’s revision will be pivotal for prospects of meeting the target.

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