Austrian growth at risk from slow administration

AUSTRIA: The wind industry has raised the alarm over the darkening outlook for wind development in the Alpine country.

Concern over projects on waiting list (pic: IG Windkraft)

Around 500MW of wind projects have currently lodged applications for support with Austria's renewables administration office, OEMAG, and the waiting list stretches into 2019. Yet, under the renewable energy law 2012, applications for projects can simply be cancelled if they are not approved for support within three years.

There is an urgent need to reform the law, said Austria's wind federation, IG Windkraft. "We have stopped developing new projects," said Thomas Huemer, managing director of Austrian developer Imwind. "Wind farm planning is not possible without secure framework conditions — a lottery game to win support funds is not enough."

Initially, the renewables law boosted the country's wind sector, which doubled in installed capacity between 2012 and the end of 2014 to reach 2.1GW.

But the support mechanism is linked to the wholesale price of electricity, which has halved, and costs of reserve energy to keep the electricity transmission system balanced, which have increased fourfold since the 2012 law took effect.

The wind energy support funds - €11.5 million a year plus a share of a further fund of around €15 million divided between small hydro, photovoltaic and wind — now cover only half the originally anticipated wind-energy capacity, said IG Windkraft.