Electricity comeback proof of economic turnaround: Austria recovering 7 percent
After the relaxation of the corona lockdown measures the electricity consumption in Austria is increasing again. Since the low-point in March with minus 14 percent, Austria’s energy consumption has improved from minus 14 percent to currently minus 7 percent in comparison with last year’s figures. “This means that we have recovered approximately 50 percent of the deficit.
Electricity consumption in Europe year on year
Regarding the rest of Europe, tail-end France also recovered from the all-time low: while the minus in the energy consumption ranged around 38 % in calendar week 14, it improved to about -18 % until June. Also in Spain we can observe a recovery of the economy when we look at the energy consumption. While in calendar week 15 the low-point of energy demand was -25 %, it climbed to -9 % in June.
Electricity consumption covered by 100% green energy
In the first half of 2020 Austria was able to cover its electricity consumption on a total of seven weeks with 100% energy from renewable sources. In comparison to last year, however, the renewables’ share in the consumption deceased from 81 to 77 percent due to adverse weather conditions, e.g. bad streamflow.
Diagram: Electricity consumption coverage 2020 since the beginning of the year: share of renewables in percent /calendar week
Import / Export
Import-export development since the beginning oft he year
Even though the energy consumption in Austria still ranges below the level of last year, Austria has imported more electricity than it has exported during the corona crisis. This is due to the fact that the streamflows of the run-of-river power plants were unusually low for the season especially in April and May. Therefore the low electricity generation compensated the low consumption to a large extent.
Grid expansion & renovation will reduce energy costs in the long-term and secure power supply
Power transmission lines can become overloaded for many different reasons. This is when APG takes action: Austria’s TSO has power stations under contract which can alter their projected output if necessary. This means: they can boost or throttle their performance to avoid supply shortfalls or overloads. This cost-intensive intervention is called “redispatch measures” (RD).
The most cost-efficient and at the same time most sustainable solution to avoid supply shortfalls or capacity overloads is the expansion and enhancement of the grid infrastructure: therefore APG will invest a total of 2.9 billion Euros over the next ten years alone.
APG’s RD costs, year-on-year comparison 2011-2020
A strong grid with sufficient capacity would considerably reduce both the need for RD measures and the costs. All over Austria transmission lines that are lacking or still under construction, like e.g. in Salzburg (cf. APG grid development plan) have cost the Austrian customers approximately 12 million Euros per month in 2019.
RD costs 2017-2020, reference period Jan-June
In April/May 2020 the need for RD measures was unusually high: low streamflows in Austria’s rivers led to high grid loads despite the lower consumption due to the corona crisis.
Structure of RD measures in 2020 to date
Electric power generation from wind or solar energy is difficult to forecast, while the generation of a thermal power station (e.g. a gas-fuelled power plant) can be controlled with the utmost precision. Besides the hydroelectric storage power plants in Western Austria, the thermal power plants in Austria’s East are indispensable to avoid supply shortfalls or capacity overloads because they can be used for RD measures.
To date approximately 82 percent of the RD measures in 2020 have been executed with thermal power stations. However, their availability is jeopardized due to the currently low market prices. Therefore APG is developing new digital products and services to complement RD measures, which are supposed to facilitate more flexibility and thus a better security of supply in the future.
Days with redispatch measures 2013-2020, reference period Jan-June
At present, APG uses RD measures almost daily to make sure that the electricity supply can be guaranteed even when the situation gets tight. Climatic conditions and the introduction of an electricity price zone between Austria and Germany in October 2018 have slowed down the increasing need for RD measures since 2017. Nevertheless, as long as the energy transition continues and grid development lags behind, redispatch measures will remain indispensable.
APG network: strong backbone of Austrian electricity supply
Every province in Austria has its power plants and its trasmission network. However, power generation and consumption within a province do not necessarily always match at any given moment: excess supply and excess demand usually alternate.
The APG network is the strong backbone enabling the exchange of electric power in both directions: it will transport suplus electricity to ohter provinces (feed into the APG network) or compensate possible shortages (withdrawal from the APG network).
Example Burgenland: considerable dynamics & large quantities
The flow of electricity between the grids of APG and the Austrian province Burgendlang changes its direction at an almost hourly rate. Often unexpectedly large quantities of electricity need to be transported, eg. when an unanticipated storm occurs.
On May 3, Burgenland has feed three-times as much electricity into the APG network (approx. 11 GWh) than the province usually consumes on one day (approx. 4.2 GWh).