Booster for the Decarbonization of Central Upper Austria: Permission Granted With Positive EIA Decision by Provincial Authorities
The province of Upper Austria, as the EIA authority conducting the proceedings, confirms the environmental compatibility for the joint project "Secure Power Supply Central Region Upper Austria" of Austrian Power Grid (APG), Netz Oberösterreich GmbH (Netz OÖ) and LINZ NETZ GmbH (LINZ NETZ).
From November 29 to December 2, 2022, the oral hearing by the EIA authority (Upper Austria) took place at the Design Center in Linz. Only three months later (March 9, 2023), the positive EIA decision by the authority is available. This decision is the result of a professional handling of the EIA procedure on the part of the EIA authority. This decision is an important milestone for the realization of one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country. It is an important contribution to a secure power supply, the success of the energy transition and the electrification of businesses, industry and society in the region and all of Austria.
The decision shows that there are no negative effects either with regard to nature conservation or from the point of view of human medicine. The authority therefore concludes that the project "Secure Power Supply Central Upper Austria" is environmentally compatible and permissible in the light of the expert opinions and the results of the EIA procedure that was carried out.
220 kV supply ring for secure power supply
The construction of a 220 kV supply ring is planned to replace the the existing 110 kV grid in central Upper Austria, which is more than 70 years old and no longer meets future demands. This ring will connect the APG substations Ernsthofen, Pichling, Hütte Süd, Wegscheid and Kronstorf with each other. In the context of the project, several substations of the project partners will be converted or expanded to form a sub-grid in the central region and as integrated elements of the ring.
For the construction of the new lines, existing line routes of APG, Netz OÖ and LINZ NETZ will be used in order to keep the impact on people and nature as low as possible. Other measures include voltage conversions from 110 kV to 220 kV on line sections already designed for this purpose, as well as expansion and conversion work in a total of eight substations. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024. Start of operation is scheduled to take take place in stages from 2026 to 2030.
Transformation of the energy system
The current geopolitical and economic situation and the associated price increases for gas and electricity are a wake-up call to immediately implement the energy transition in a supply-secure manner. A high-capacity electricity infrastructure is the key to the sustainable transformation of the energy system. Especially in the central region of Upper Austria, grid expansion is essential for the secure supply of electricity and the development of the region as location for businesses and industry as well as place to live. The increasing electricity consumption is caused, for example, by dynamic developments in the power region Enns-Steyr and in the greater area around Linz, as well as process conversions in industry (keywords: decarbonization, electricity-based steel production) and an overall increase in the number of consumers. The increasing expansion of renewable energies also makes increased electricity transport capacities urgently necessary. All in all, only grid expansion can sustainably secure locations and jobs.
Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG: “The positive EIA decision is the first step towards supplying the central region of Upper Austria with sustainable energy. This project enables the development and decarbonization of the business location and creates the prerequisite for access to low-priced electricity. The expansion of the grid infrastructure requires the same priority as the expansion of renewable energy sources. Only an adequately dimensioned electricity grid creates security of supply and facilitates a better flexibility of the overall system.”
Thomas Karall, CFO of APG: “Together with our project partners, we are investing around 650 million euros in the industrial province of Upper Austria, although this is just an estimated figure due to the long implementation phase until 2030 and the current price changes on the world market. With this investment, we are facilitating the increasing electrification of businesses, industry and society. The project thus makes a significant contribution to the success of the energy transition.”
Manfred Hofer, Managing Director of Netz Oberösterreich GmbH: “The Central Region Power Supply project also creates positive framework conditions for us as distribution system operator. With a new, state-of-the-art electricity supply infrastructure, we are in a position to make our contribution to an efficient and reliable supply. At the same time, a secure supply is the basis for a positive economic development and quality of life. At the same time, the project is a key factor for the successful energy future in Upper Austria!”
Johannes Zimmerberger, Managing Director of LINZ NETZ GmbH: "A secure power supply is the mainstay of the energy transition and an important factor for the future, especially for the area in and around Linz as business location and place to live. The positive development of our region is based to a large extent on renewable energy, major decarbonization projects and thus on a future-proof grid infrastructure. As one of the partners in the "Secure Electricity Supply for the Central Region of Upper Austria" project, we are working with great commitment to establish a high-quality supply ring that will meet the growing demands on electricity supply in a sustainable manner."
Hubert Zajicek, Member of the Management Board of voestalpine AG and Head of the Steel Division: "With greentec steel, voestalpine has an ambitious and feasible step-by-step plan for making its contribution to achieving the climate targets. In the first step, we plan to replace a blast furnace in Linz with an electric arc furnace starting in 2027, thereby reducing our CO2 emissions by up to 30%. At the beginning of the next decade, another blast furnace in Linz will be replaced by an electric arc furnace. An important prerequisite for the implementation of this first major stage is the adequate availability of electricity at economically advantageouos prices. Prompt implementation of the Secure Electricity Supply Central Region Upper Austria project is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for the decarbonization of the voestalpine site in Linz."
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, 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.
About Netz Oberösterreich GmbH
Netz Oberösterreich GmbH is the electricity grid operator for large parts of Upper Austria and for parts of the neighboring provinces of Salzburg, Styria and Lower Austria. Around 650 employees ensure a safe and secure grid operation 24/7. The electricity grid covers more than 33,000 kilometers at all voltage levels. 61 substations and switching stations ensure the security of electricity supply, and more than 517,000 customer installations are supplied via 9,200 transformer stations. More than 750,000 smart meters and switching devices are installed in the customer installations. Netz Oberösterreich GmbH is a full subsidiary of Energie AG Oberösterreich.
About LINZ NETZ GmbH
LINZ NETZ GmbH operates the electricity grid and natural gas network for the Linz area and parts of the Mühlviertel region. With a team of about 280 specialists, the company ensures the expansion in the electricity sector to facilitate the energy transition, as well as the safe operation and maintenance of the 8,355-kilometer distribution grid.
28 substations and around 3,300 transformer stations ensure a sustainable supply of electricity. The smart meter roll-out is well advanced. More than 240,000 smart meters already form the basis for new energy systems in the supply area. The electricity grid for Linz and 82 surrounding communities reliably covers the regional electricity demand of more than 400,000 customers and enables the positive development of this vibrant living and economic area. LINZ NETZ GmbH is a full subsidiary of LINZ AG.