Austria - Green electricity law opens doors for more wind

AUSTRIA: As a small country with mountainous regions and limited wind resources, Austria does not have major wind ambitions. However, wind energy association IG Windkraft is keen for Austria's wind potential to be harnessed, in particular to replace imports of nuclear electricity.

Last year saw 31 turbines with a combined capacity of 73MW installed, an investment of EUR120 million that raised the country's total capacity to 1,084MW.

IG Windkraft expects stronger growth for 2012, with an additional 376MW at an investment of EUR620 million, which would raise operational wind capacity by a third.

This optimistic outlook is attributed to Austria's Green Electricity Act, the Okostromgesetz 2012, due to take effect on 1 July, which considerably improves the support framework for wind. The law aims for 2GW of wind capacity by 2020, with 700MW by 2015.

The act also expands the support fund from which renewables feed-in tariffs are sourced, with EUR11.5 million earmarked for wind energy, enough to support 120MW a year. Special provision last year of EUR80 million allowed feed-in contracts to be signed for another 550MW of wind projects previously stuck in a waiting list, enabling them to be built.

Another encouraging development was the fact that renewable-energy tariff regulation were passed at the beginning of the year, rather than delayed for months as has occurred in the past. This sets the wind energy feed-in tariff for 2012 at EUR0.095/kWh, payable for 13 years, a reduction from the EUR0.097/kWh tariff in 2011.