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APG: Power Supply Remains Challenging

Review: assumptions of winter stress test 2022/23 confirmed. Outlook: summer will remain challenging. Call for massive acceleration of the transformation to a sustainable energy system.

Exactly five months ago, Austrian Power Grid (APG) used a power stress test to evaluate various scenarios with regard to the security of electricity supply for the winter of 2022/23. The scenario with the highest probability was largely confirmed in the course of the past winter. Mild temperatures, the consumers’ economical use of electricity, the extension of the availability of power plant capacities throughout Europe and the robust initial situation of gas storage levels in Austria and Europe had a beneficial effect. Due to the consistently high availability of APG cross-border capacities of around 99 percent, Austria was able to continuously import electricity (which is always necessary during the winter) to the extent of the available grid capacities. However, the demand often exceeds the amount of electricity that can be covered with imports, which then requires APG to ramp up domestic gas-fired power plants (grid reserve power plants) in the course of redispatch measures (emergency interventions). "With regard to the security of electricity supply we can be quite satisfied with the course of the past winter. Austria was well prepared for the challenging months due to the high availability of the electricity grid, the high storage levels in the gas sector and the grid reserve. In addition, it was possible to save around five percent of electricity consumption," sums up Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG.

Despite this positive analysis, however, the weaknesses of the current electricity system remain obvious: grid capacities are currently not sufficient to import cheaply available electricity from abroad to Austria at any time. In 2022, the power grid therefore had to be stabilized by means of emergency interventions (redispatching: switching thermal power plants on or off to keep grid operations stable) on 237 days by means of domestic gas-fired power plants. This generated total costs of €718 million; in the winter months from December 2022 to the end of March 2023, these costs amounted to €145.5 million. In total, such measures had to be put in place on 71 days during this period. "We are paying an enormously high price for delaying grid expansion through lengthy approval procedures," says Christiner. These are aggregated costs which are constantly rising and which ultimately have to be borne by the customers, simply because the electricity grids are too weak.

Signs of a challenging summer for the electricity industry

The winter has also shown the strong impact of not enough precipitation on the water flow of European rivers. A prolonged dry period in the summer can therefore very early lead to negative effects in many areas of electricity production (including run-of-river power plants and power plant cooling) in Austria and Europe.

"Last year, we already recorded a decline of more than ten percent in run-of-river generation. The roughly three percent reduction in electricity consumption in the summer months of last year only partially compensated for this," says Christiner.

"Even over the course of the year, we still won't manage to meet our electricity demands with renewable sources. To achieve this goal by 2030, we need more capacities, especially in the transmission grid. We have to attribute the same importance to the expansion of the transmission grids as we do to the expansion of renewable generation and really release all the handbrakes immediately," appeals Thomas Karall, CFO of APG. This is the only way that the energy generated from renewables can be integrated in the grid and made available for use. "If this does not succeed, we will, on the one hand, still have to resort to gas-fired power plants when the domestic demand can only be covered with additional imports which threaten to overload the grid in Austria and, on the other hand, we will have to throttle the production of renewables more and more frequently during windy and sunny hours," says Christiner.

APG sets milestone with electricity-saving product for industry

That is why it is especially important to mindfully use energy during peak consumption periods. "Saving electricity continues to be an important measure for saving CO2, dampening electricity prices and relieving pressure on the power grids," says Karall. With the Powermonitor ( and Demand-Side-Response (DSR) electricity savings product, APG not only made a significant contribution to facilitating reduced electricity consumption at the right time (in accordance with the legal obligation stipulated in the Austrian Electricity Consumption Reduction Act, SVRG) last winter, but also set a milestone for utilizing flexibilities of the electricity system. Industrial enterprises were motivated to reduce or shift their electricity consumption during peak hours by means of a monetary incentive. On behalf of the Austrian Ministry on Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology APG acted as the technical implementation agent for this product, thus leveraging the flexibilities of large consumers also for overall system stability. Dozens of companies were interested in the product. Ultimately, new flexibility providers were contracted in several auctions, who facilitated the saving of a total of 242 MWh specifically during peak hours. This amount of energy is equivalent to the annual consumption of 70 households. The use of industrial flexibilities through this product thus totaled 22 hours.

Grid expansion and digital integration of all players are the basis for supply-secure climate neutrality

In addition to digitally interconnecting all players in the electricity system, immediate grid expansion remains the most effective measure for ensuring that the energy transition can be achieved without jeopardizing the security of supply.
"Only by increasing capacities massively and immediately not only with regard to the electricity grid, but also in all other parts of the energy system, can the energy transition be achieved successfully without jeopardizing the security of supply. Economic damage must be minimized, thus there is no alternative to grid expansion and the simultaneous digital integration of all players in the energy system. "The success of the energy transition will be decided in the power grid," emphasizes Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG.


About Austrian Power Grid (APG)

As independent transmission system operator Austrian Power Grid (APG) is in charge of ensuring the security of electricity supply in Austria. With our high-performance and digital electricity infrastructure and the use of state-of-the-art technologies we integrate renewable energies, we are the platform for the electricity market, and we provide access to reasonably priced electricity for Austria’s consumers and thus create the basis for Austria as supply-secure industrial and business location and place to live. The APG grid totals a length of about 3,400 km and is operated, maintained and continuously adapted to the increasing challenges of the electrification of businesses, industry and society by a team of approximately 733 specialists. Also in 2022 Austria had a security of supply of 99.99 percent and thus ranks among the top countries worldwide. Our investments of 490 million euros in 2023 (2022: 370 million euros) are a motor for the Austrian economy and a crucial factor in reaching Austria’s climate and energy targets. Until 2032 APG will invest a total of approximately 3.5 billion euros in grid expansion and renovation projects, which amounts to approximately 19 percent of the total of 18 billion euros which the energy industry will invest in the grid infrastructure over the next ten years.

Press contact


Christoph Schuh

Wagramer Straße 19 (IZD-Tower)
1220 Wien

Phone +43 50 32056230 Email
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