Wind turbine stop while states mull subsidy

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Work on more than 200 MW of wind power development in Austria involving about 100 turbines has stopped while investors await news of the new feed-in tariffs for renewables, due to be announced by the country's nine Länder on August 19. The tariffs are required as part of Austria's new law, Elwog, which liberalises its electricity sector (main story). In the meantime, renewables operators continue to receive payments which vary from Land to Land, the time of day and the season, but the average is ATS 0.63/kWh (EUR 0.04/kWh).

Most of the projects involved are located in Niederosterreich and the Burgenland, according to Stefan Hantsch of the Austrian wind energy association Interessen Gemeinschaft Windenergie (IGW). Many of these turbines have been officially approved, but the current lack of tariffs creates a financial risk, delaying installation.

The largest project affected is being developed by Energiewerkstatt, in which seven to ten 1.5 MW turbines are planned for a site in Oberzeiring, 1800 metres above sea level in the Alps, says Hans Winkelmeier of the company. A Europe-wide call for tenders to supply the turbines is still planned to end in June. Wind speeds have been measured at the site for about one year and Winkelmeier hopes installation will begin next year.

Meantime, a few small projects are going ahead, but Hantsch questions their feasibility-such as one planned for summer at Zistersdorf, Niederosterreich, using four DeWind 600 kW turbines, set up by a limited partnership, DonauWind. Under present conditions, Hantsch says, the average local tariff for renewables power is only ATS 0.67/kWh, and state support will not cover more than 30% of the investment-making that project uneconomical. An NEG Micon 750 kW turbine is planned to be built in Plankogel in the Steiermark in June, financed by local investors.

As of last month, Austria had 73 turbines making up 32 MW of capacity. The latest project to be completed comprises four Enercon 500 kW turbines at Zurndorf in Burgenland.

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