Planning the energy future across borders


The Bavarian Minister of State for Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, met representatives of VERBUND for a “Bavarian-Austrian Energy Dialogue” in Vienna. Not only was the company’s commitment in the field of hydropower recognised in this way, but the cooperation in the conceptualisation of a sustainable, safe and affordable energy future was also intensified: VERBUND joined the Bavarian Hydrogen Alliance.

Apart from a general exchange on energy policy in the currently very challenging environment, the topic of green hydrogen was one of the focal points of the event. Minister of State Hubert Aiwanger and VERBUDN CEO Michael Strugl agreed that the continued dependency on fossil fuels must be reduced considerably within a feasible time frame.

Michael Strugl: “Domestic production of green hydrogen is an important building block for the transformation of the energy landscape. In order to cover the demand run-up expected in the middle to long term, it will be necessary, in addition to domestic production of green hydrogen, to develop routes along which green hydrogen can be imported to our domestic markets. To this end, it is important to influence the hydrogen economy of the future along the entire value chain, including in alliances. We as businesses have emphasised our desire to collaborate across borders for this purpose today by joining the Bavarian Hydrogen Alliance.”

The Bavarian Minister of State Hubert Aiwanger welcomed this step: “VERBUND’s accession demonstrates how very attractive the alliance is beyond our national borders. Bavaria and Austria are pioneers in matters relating to hydrogen. Our states recognised its key function for climate neutrality in industry and transport early on. Thanks to existing natural gas networks and storage facilities, we have ideal conditions for cross-border cooperation. Thanks to its central position in the European natural gas network, Austria has been able to become a permanent hydrogen hub. This will also strengthen Bavaria’s position. 

Green hydrogen is an important building block of the CO2-free energy future: It is one of the levers for achieving the ambitious climate goals and will primarily be used where green electricity cannot be deployed directly and immediately. Examples include in the metal industry or in refineries. 

The Bavarian Hydrogen Alliance is a networking, knowledge and interest platform of more than 240 hydrogen actors from business, science and politics and is coordinated by the Hydrogen Centre Bavaria (H2.B). H2.B is the strategy and coordination centre for hydrogen-related topics and activities initiated by the Free State of Bavaria and based in Nuremberg. The centre acts at the interface between business, science, politics and the public in a national and increasingly also international context.

Prof. Peter Wasserscheid, co-director of H2.B, was enthusiastic about VERBUND joining: “Not only does VERBUND operate a large number of Bavarian hydropower plants, but it is also a pioneer in matters related to hydrogen technology and the hydrogen economy. Together we want to build up a hydrogen value creation chain along the Danube to provide more access to affordable green hydrogen for Austria and Bavaria.

Hamead Ahrary, department head Hydrogen at VERBUND added: “In order to create a cross-border hydrogen economy it is essential to confront the challenges together with the right partners. That is why we are very happy to advance the transformation of the energy landscape together with the Bavarian Hydrogen Alliance.”

VERBUND Hydropower in Bavaria
In Bavaria, VERBUND is best known as the operator of hydropower plants on the Bavarian Inn and in the border regions of the Inn and Danube. The company generates around 5.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 21 power plants, of which around 4 billion kilowatt hours for Bavaria. With the renewal and expansion of the Jettenbach-Töging power plant, in which VERBUND is investing around EUR 250 million, Germany's currently largest hydropower project is not the only thing to be implemented. With an increase in annual generation of 25%, to around 700 million kilowatt hours, the new power plant will manage around 14% of the hydropower expansion of 1 terawatt hour planned in Bavaria - additional electricity from hydropower for a total of around 200,000 Bavarian households.

“If we add up the technically possible efficiency potential in our existing plants and add possible innovative hydropower uses for water body rehabilitation, we could contribute almost 400 million kilowatt hours more to hydropower generation for Bavaria,” illustrates Karl Heinz Gruber, Managing Director of the Bavarian company VERBUND Wasserkraft [Hydropower]. “With the Riedl energy storage facility, we have the unique opportunity to provide Bavaria with 300 MW of flexibility and storage capacity for the integration of the volatile forms of energy, wind and photovoltaics. Appropriate permit framework conditions and incentives would support these investments.”

“VERBUND is the designer of the energy transition - today as well as tomorrow,” VERBUND CEO Michael Strugl promised in conclusion.