In April 2009 former Environment Minister Berlakovich and Economy Minister Mitterlehner launched a participative process to work out the Austrian Energy Strategy (“Energiestrategie Österreich”). For about one year some 180 representatives from science, economy and environment, society and the administrative sector discussed intensely on preconditions and policies for a sustainable energy system and eventually developed 39 clusters of measures.
The measures were then analysed and evaluated by four specialised institutions (Austrian Energy Agency, Austrian Federal Environment Agency, Energie-Control GmbH, consortium of the Austrian Institute of Economic Research).
Point of departure of a long-term process
The Energy Strategy indicates which strategic priorities and measures are appropriate to achieve these objectives by the year 2020 and simultaneously shows how energy can be provided and used in an environmentally compatible, safe and affordable way.
According to the EU energy and climate package adopted in December 2008 Austria is obligated to carry out a special energy strategy with which to achieve, until 2020,
• an increase in the share of renewable energy to 34%;
• a reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions in sectors not subject to emissions trading by at least 16%;
• a 20% growth in energy efficiency.
Development of a sustainable energy system
The essential challenges, however, are more long-term and exceed the time horizon of 2020. The target year 2020 can be regarded as an interim stage on our way towards a sustainable energy system. To Austria, the use of nuclear energy is neither a sustainable form of energy supply nor a workable option for the fight against climate change. For this reason we will need a long-term vision (energy autarky) in addition to the above-mentioned objectives and measures for 2020; for investment decisions of the next few years will have long-term consequences.
To cope with these challenges Austria’s future energy policy thus has to pursue a threefold strategy:
• Increasing energy efficiency;
• Promoting and intensifying renewable energy;
• Guaranteeing energy supply for the long term.
By elaborating and implementing an energy efficiency package the Federal Government and the Provinces create the legal framework for a number of detailed measures from the other fields.
More renewable energy
The generation of electricity from renewables is to experience a significant extension; utilising the potential of hydropower, wind power, biomass and photovotaic. As to heat supply, the clear objective is the substitution of fossil energy sources by renewable energy sources and the use of waste heat (district heating in cities and the use of biomass in rural areas).
Safe energy supply systems
Energy supply is to be guaranteed by the consistent development of renewable energies, long-term availability of conventional energy sources as well as efficient electricity transmission and distribution grids.
For grids, the focus is on the expansion and modernisation of electricity, gas, district heating and cooling systems, as well as on smart grids and smart metering.
The quantitative analysis shows that, if the major part of the proposed package of measures is implemented, the above-mentioned targets (1,100 PJ; 34% renewable energy as well as -16% GHG emissions) can be achieved or surpassed.
Furthermore, it becomes apparent that also in 2020 room heat and mobility will play the most important role in final energy consumption. A vital condition for reaching the reduction target is the adoption of a Federal Climate Protection Act with clearly set responsibilities. By implementing the Energy Strategy up to 80,000 jobs could be safeguarded and newly created.