More than 280 days passed. From the draft law to the actual law. Last Wednesday the time had come, the Renewable Expansion Law (EAG) was passed in the National Council. A record-breaking time, which those responsible can no longer afford to implement. Because the goal of generating domestic electricity exclusively from sun, wind and water by 2030 is ambitious.
The electricity supplier Austrian Power Grid (APG) controls and is responsible for the national electricity transmission network. The EAG is only one part of converting the power supply, says APG board member Gerhard Christiner. In order to achieve this goal, network and storage capacities must also be increased at the same time. "Only then can we see the security of the electricity system in the interests of Austria as a business location guaranteed", he says. Christiner therefore emphasizes: "The necessary conversion of the electricity system is a mammoth task."
The energy that is produced must also be managed successfully. However, the basic equipment is missing. More substations, stronger power grids and the trust of the population are necessary.
21 years for the construction of the Salzburg overhead line
Christiner refers to the expansion of the overhead line in Salzburg, where objections from neighbors delayed construction. They called for underground wiring to protect the landscape. Planning began in 2005 and will go into operation in 2026. Then 21 years have passed. “The decisive factor is the acceleration of the approval process for energy management systems. The goals can only be achieved by 2030 if the speed of the process becomes faster. "
But it won't be easy. The acceptance of the population, for example when a wind turbine is built, is no longer as high as it was a few years ago. The charging stations for e-cars will also increase significantly in order to meet demand. That won't always be to the delight of the residents. In this case, it is not the federal government that is responsible, but local levels.
The costs of the electricity transition should not be underestimated either. "APG's current network investment planning of 3,1 billion euros is not the final answer to the EAG." A few dozen billion euros will have to be invested. In the high-speed infrastructure of the railways, in the conversion of the diesel-operated branch lines, thermal insulation in buildings, conversion of companies from oil and gas to renewable energies, to name a few examples. The entire energy transition in Austria will cost 50 to 100 billion euros.
And then there is the risk of a blackout, a power failure. It almost happened in January. The Croatian network node failed, which led to different frequencies in northern and southern Europe. They could be adjusted again at the last moment.
With renewable energies, the European power grid is facing new challenges, because solar and wind power are not always available and have to be stored. “The more volatile energy, the more powerful the electricity infrastructure has to be,” says Christiner. For this, however, detailed concepts would still have to be worked out.
How the electricity transition should succeed by 2030 is still being analyzed, he says. There will be answers by the 2022 network development plan. This will be presented in November of next year. Then it will be known whether the objectives of the EAG can be achieved.