In the last weeks (calendar week 49 - week 52) of 2022, Austria was heavily dependent on electricity imports. Due to the lower production from renewable energies which is typical for the season, Austria had to import 1,539 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity, despite the relatively warm temperatures. The amount of imported electricity was particularly high on December 21, when a new historic daily high of 100.5 GWh in electricity imports was reached. On December 22 another record high was recorded: at midnight, the historically highest 15-minute import capacity of 5,551.6 MW was reached. According to Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, this import capacity and the secure supply to customers was only possible due to the general availability of all power lines in the APG grid. This was achieved through internationally coordinated preparations for the difficult winter in the autumn, which focused on maintaining the security of supply.
Tendency to save electricity continues to be noticeable
In December, 5,649 GWh of electricity were consumed in Austria. Compared to the previous month (5,237 GWh), electricity consumption increased by around eight percent, but compared to the reference value of the years 2017 - 2021, around three percent electricity were saved. An analysis of the last quarter of 2022 confirms the trend of careful use of the resource electricity: from August to November, Austria saved almost five percent of electricity compared to the average of the past five years.
According to Gerhard Christiner, we have to continue to save electricity: "With the APG Powermonitor, it is possible for the Austrian population to see the most effective electricity saving hours and to make an active contribution. Particularly due to the generally challenging overall energy situation, saving electricity remains the order of the day. It is positive that in the last months of 2022 all consumers were able to make a significant contribution to reducing electricity consumption and CO2. This also reduced overall systemic costs and made a significant contribution to ensuring system security
Interventions in the power grid necessary on 18 days in December 2022
With the increasing demands on the overall electricity system, the lack of grid capacities also becomes apparent. With the growth and increased integration of renewable energy sources as well as the increasing electrification of businesses, industry and society, the demands on the electricity grid are constantly rising. There are ever increasing periods of time where the existing grid infrastructure does not have the necessary capacities to face these challenges. Redispatch measures must therefore be taken regularly to avoid bottlenecks in the electricity grid and to ensure the security of supply in Austria. This involves counteracting high line loads through targeted interventions in the use of thermal and hydraulic power plants.
"In December alone, such interventions were necessary on 18 days. This causes costs that ultimately have to be paid by the electricity customer. At the end of the year, the annual costs of redispatch measures for the Austrian electricity customer amounted to about 94 million euros. A high-performance electricity grid with sufficient capacities would significantly reduce the need for interventions in power plant operations and lower the costs. The immediate expansion of the grid infrastructure is therefore a top priority," emphasizes Thomas Karall, CFO of APG.
The current developments in electricity and energy prices as well as the geopolitical developments in Ukraine show how important a rapid and secure transformation to a sustainable energy system is. This requires immediate overall system planning, adequate capacities in the areas of grids, storage, production, and comprehensive digitalization to utilize the flexibilities of all players in the system. All of this must be done immediately. Accelerating and simplifying approval procedures are key levers in this regard. With its investment program of around 3.5 billion euros for the expansion of the electricity infrastructure, APG is ensuring that Austria's transmission grid is made fit for the success of the energy transition and sustainable security of supply for all Austrians.
Renewables share of electricity supply at 54 percent
In December 2022, electricity generation from renewable sources was able to cover around 54 percent of domestic electricity consumption (on the balance sheet). Hydropower, which accounted for around 71 percent of renewable energies in Austria, was the main contributor. Electricity production from wind power increased by a staggering 66 percent compared to the previous month.
Energy exchange within Austria
APG's trans-regional electricity grid is essential for the security of supply in Austria. Via the respective distribution grids, the provinces can feed surplus electricity into the APG grid and thus make it available throughout Austria. If a federal province has too little electricity, it can obtain the required electricity from the APG grid.
The provinces with the largest feed-in to the APG grid in December were Burgenland (127 GWh) and Lower Austria (124 GWh), while the “industrial province” Styria (363 GWh) and Carinthia (358 GWh), for example, drew the most electricity from the grid.
APG continually keeps track of the development of the domestic electricity industry and regularly publishes diagrams at https://www.apg.at/infografiken regarding the topics: energy exchange, energy consumption in Austria, energy consumption in Europe, import/export, electricity prices, etc.
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.