Due to warmer weather, electricity generation from sustainable energy sources increased again in April (calendar weeks 14 to 17) compared to previous months. Approximately 89 percent of Austria's electricity consumption could be covered by renewables. With a total consumption of 4,450 gigawatt hours (GWh), this amounts to 3,956 GWh. In calendar week 17, it was possible for the first time this year to cover 100 percent of domestic electricity demand sustainably (on the balance sheet).
The increase in renewable electricity generation in April was made possible mainly by generation from run-of-river plants, which accounted for 2,490 GWh, or about 63 percent of the renewable sources. Production from wind power accounted for 647 GWh or 16 percent of the renewable sources in April, which means an increase of about 5 percent in comparison to the previous year.
According to Gerhard Christiner, CTO of APG, this is a typical seasonal development: “Especially in spring and summer, when it gets warmer, we can also observe an increase in the production power of renewables – keyword: snowmelt - and the importance of expanding wind power.”
Export days exceed import days
Good generation from renewables was the reason that electricity could be exported on more than half of the days (18 days) in April (on the balance sheet). While Austria was an electricity importing country in April 2022 with 477 GWh, we managed to become an electricity exporting country this year with a total of 95 GWh. The last time Austria was an exporting country on the balance sheet was almost two years ago in August 2021.
"The significant decrease in electricity imports in April was only possible due to the strong increase in run-of-river generation, which represents a large part of renewable energy in Austria. Due to the extremely dry weather in the summer of the previous year, the production of hydropower was greatly reduced last year," says Christiner.
Electricity saving effects still expandable
Based on initial analyses, Austria's total electricity demand in the weeks of April was around 4,450 GWh, which is a reduction of 1.7 percent compared to the average of the years 2017 – 2021. On the one hand, this development was due to the exceptionally warm temperatures and, on the other hand, to savings measures of consumers.
According to Gerhard Christiner, it will be important to save electricity also in the summer months: “Saving electricity reduces CO2 and overall systemic costs, thus making a significant contribution to ensuring system security. With 1.7% reduction in electricity consumption the trend is going in the right direction, but further electricity saving measures must be the goal. The reduction of CO2 has to be pushed further, therfore the sustainable expansion of power grids, renewable production, and storage is still the order of the day.”
Tips for saving electricity can be found at apg.at/stromspartipps or on the Climate Ministry's mission11.at page. With the APG Powermonitor, it is possible for the Austrian population to see the most effective electricity saving hours and thus make an active contribution to CO2 reduction and system security. The APG Powermonitor can be found at: www.apg.at/en/powermonitor.
High grid feed-in due to wind strongholds in the east of the country
The trans-regional electricity grid of APG also enables the exchange of energy within the country. Electricity surpluses in individual provinces can thus be distributed throughout Austria to compensate deficits.
Due to the weather conditions in April and the resulting good electricity generation from wind power, the country's wind strongholds - Lower Austria and Burgenland - were able to generate a surplus of energy and make it available throughout Austria via the APG grid.
Lower Austria was able to feed 414 GWh into the trans-regional grid, Upper Austria 223 GWh and Burgenland 208 GWh. With 229 GWh Voralrberg had to draw the most electricity from the grid, along with Carinthia (167 GWh).
No security of supply without grid reserves
In order to be able to operate the power grid reliably, APG has to intervene in the schedules of power plants or correct the planned use of power plants. To do this, among other things, reserve power plants (‘grid reserve plants’) are ramped up to balance grid loads.
These measures are also called redispatching. "Such interventions have already been necessary on 72 days this year up to the end of April. At the same time, redispatching causes costs that ultimately have to be borne by the electricity customers. Until the end of April the costs for this amounted to around 39 million euros, compared to 19 million euros in the same period of the previous year," explains Thomas Karall, CFO of APG. “To reduce the costs incurred by consumers as a result of redispatch measures and the number of interventions, a high-performance power grid with sufficient capacities is necessary. The immediate expansion of the grid infrastructure is therefore a top priority.”
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 exploit 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.
APG continually keeps track of the development of the domestic electricity industry and regularly publishes diagrams at 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, 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.