Certainty of Austria’s electricity supply in acute danger


The certainty of extensive electricity supply in Austria is in acute danger as a consequence of the lack of a modern and efficient high tension network. This was stated by Dr. Heinz Kaupa, Technical Director of the VERBUND-Austrian Power Grid AG (APG), today, Friday, at a press conference in Vienna.

In view of the continuous growth of demand as well as the hardly planned use of wind energy, black-outs are becoming more frequent, as during the recent storms of 3 and 4 January. So, according to Kaupa, it is high time to complete the 380 kV power main, and approval is well overdue.

The UCTE report just published, “System Adequacy Forecast 2005-2015”, reaches the conclusion that by the year 2010 power station capacity in Europe will be insufficient to cover demand for electricity. That is indeed a European average observation and says nothing of regional distribution or the quality of power station capacities. But even now critical situations are become more frequent. The unbalanced regional distribution of electricity production means a worsening problem: even today there is a lack of the necessary network capacity to be sure of distributing energy extensively.

From 2010 until around 2015, according to the UTCE, Europe will lack about 30,000 megawatts in power station capacity, which corresponds to some 40 large, modern natural gas power stations. In Austria, according to TU Vienna, around 3,000 megawatts of new capacities are required. In addition, the network routing capacity must also be considerably increased, which means expanded. And time is extremely scarce in view of the long lead times for planning, above all for authority approval procedures and building. “Hot spots“ have arisen around Europe, for instance in the Benelux countries, from Poland to Austria, in Italy and in Austria itself.

The status quo of the Austrian high tension network with its capacity bottlenecks requires immediate attention: the regular annual growth of demand for electricity equivalent to the production of the Danube Power Station in Vienna Freudenau, and the increasing use of ecologically sensible but hardly plannable wind energy, coupled with the 50-year old North-South distribution main, have led in recent times to a spectacular aggravation of the situation with a dramatic increase in the frequency of black-outs.

Just with emergency measures at power and distribution stations, so-called bottleneck management, network operation can only be scantily maintained. The expenditure on bottleneck management rose from 10 million euro in the year 2004 to a probable 18 million euros for 2005. These exploding costs of emergency measures lead to an increase in network costs and thus electricity prices, at the same with a falling degree of certainty of supply.

The necessary use for network support of calorific power stations in the South makes the vitally necessary ecological effect of wind power fall flat. A scenario for the near future with a deterioration of the situation is for instance one of switching wind power installations to secure the network, at full cost refund. This means that the capacities of wind power in the North of Austria remain unused in extreme cases and the demand for electricity in the South of the country must be covered by the additional use of calorific power stations and by otherwise unnecessary use of storage power stations.

To summarise, a continuation of the status quo means:

- ever increasing deterioration of the certainty of electricity supply and thus massive consequences for Austria as a commercial centre

- a simultaneous increase in network costs to the disadvantage of all electricity customers

- renewable energies cannot be used sensibly either partially or at all.

As a consequence, network expansion is vitally necessary and requires the fastest possible completion of the 380 kV power main. Only in that way can these major problems be avoided and indeed solved.

Link to the System Adequcy Forecast 2005-20015 of UCTE: