In a ruling issued on 5 March 2019, the Federal Administrative Court in Vienna upheld the environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval notice for one of Austria’s most important infrastructure projects. The Salzburg line is crucial to reaching Austrian climate targets. Construction of the line by Austrian Power Grid (APG) will secure the supply of electricity in Salzburg and make a significant contribution to improving security of supply in Austria as a whole. The project has undergone one of the lengthiest reviews of any infrastructure project in Austria, with court proceedings having lasted a total of 77 months between the first instance and the proceedings before the Federal Administrative Court. The total investment volume comes to around EUR 800 million.
APG is creating the basis for reaching Austrian climate Targets
The Federal Administrative Court today issued a ruling upholding the positive first-instance decision on the EIA notice from the Salzburg state authorities approving plans to construct a 380-kV overhead line in Salzburg. The complaints were dismissed by the court. “The decision by the Federal Administrative Court is an important milestone for Austria’s energy infrastructure. The Salzburg line to be built by APG will create the basis for integrating the planned massive expansion of renewables such as wind and solar into the power grid and guarantee a secure supply of electricity for Austria over the long term. Given the urgency of the Salzburg line, we plan to start construction as quickly as possible”, said Gerhard Christiner and Thomas Karall, executive directors at APG, a trans-regional transmission system operator.
Salzburg line will close the east-west gap in the ring
The 380-kV Salzburg line project is a crucial element in completing APG’s 380-kV supply ring, which forms the backbone of the Austrian power supply. “The Salzburg line is also an essential project in helping Austria reach its climate targets”, explained Karall and Christiner. The Salzburg line will connect the wind power hot spots in eastern Austria to the pumped storage power plants in the west. The line will enable surplus wind power that isn’t used at the point of generation to be transported to storage power plants in the Alps, which act as “green batteries” for storing the electricity. The electricity can then be harvested from the storage power plants as needed. This supports the efficient use of renewable energy sources as well as fulfilment of Austria’s #mission2030 target of achieving full decarbonisation.
Security of supply for Salzburg
On average, the Austrian state of Salzburg obtains more than 50% of the electricity it needs from the APG transmission grid. “The new Salzburg line is vital for enabling implementation of Salzburg Netz GmbH’s new grid concept and will also guarantee security of supply in the state of Salzburg going forward”, said Christiner.
APG to boost the region’s economy with investments totalling around EUR 800 Million
Karall also emphasised the economic significance of the project: “Due to the long duration of the court proceedings, the investment volume has now reached some EUR 800 million. A study carried out by an Austrian industry research institute (Industriewissenschaftliches Institut) estimates that this could translate into approximately 7,000 jobs in Austria over the lifetime of the project – some 2,250 of those in Salzburg alone.”
Environmentally sustainable project: more lines to be dismantled than built
In certain sections, the lines owned by Salzburg Netz GmbH can be combined with APG’s new Salzburg line using double circuits. The project also involves dismantling old 220-kV lines owned by APG. “All in all, Salzburg will have 65 fewer kilometres of lines and 229 fewer masts in the future than it does today”, said Wolfgang Hafner, Salzburg line project manager.
The new lines will comprise 128 kilometres running between the Salzburg substations in Elixhausen (Flachgau) and Tauern in Kaprun (Pinzgau). Key project components include a new substation in Wagenham and, in Salzburg, the new Pongau substation, both of which will add support for the distribution grid in Upper Austria. According to Hafner, the 380-kV Salzburg line corridor will be routed “such as to keep its impact on people and nature as minimal as possible”.