More on the community project of VERBUND and Energie Steiermark
Gratkorn power plant: Construction started on a new hydropower plant on the Mur
Provincial Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer emphasised the major importance of renewable electricity generation in Styria at today's ground-breaking ceremony for the Mur power plant at Gratkorn. VERBUND and Energie Steiermark are jointly investing around 80 million euros in the new hydropower plant, which will go into operation in 2024.
The official start of construction for the Mur power plant at Gratkorn took place today as part of a ground-breaking ceremony. The latest community power plant of VERBUND and Energie Steiermark is being developed on the Mur north of Graz and with an output of 11 MW will generate about 54 million kWh of green CO2-free electricity per year. This can cover the annual electricity requirements of about 15,000 households; however, with this of electricity, 30,000 electric cars can each drive 10,000 kilometres.
Against the background of the ambitious climate goals and the current debate about fossil energy imports, the start of the project was a symbol of the urgent expansion of renewable electricity generation. Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer: “The past weeks have made us realise more than ever before that we have to become less dependent on gas in particular and that we have to invest in alternative sources of energy. That is why I’m especially proud of the fact that a new hydropower plant will be established in Styria. This means that the energy requirements of 15,000 households will be covered with green electricity from 2024.”
Hydropower will become a mainstay of the renewable energy future
With the Mur power plant at Gratkorn, VERBUND and Energie Steiermark are investing around 80 million euros in the expansion of Styrian hydropower: “Current developments on the international energy markets is a drastic reminder to us of the urgency of expanding renewable energies. The hydropower plant - in the same way as here with the Gratkorn power plant - but also wind power and photovoltaics will be the mainstays of the renewable energy future,” says Michael Strugl, Chairman of the Executive Board at VERBUND.
“The Mur power plant at Gratkorn will not only make a contribution on our way to medium-term independence from fossil energy imports, but this run-of-river power plant will also be a building block for increasing the security of supply from the day it goes into operation," emphasises COO Achim Kaspar, who is responsible portfolio of generation on the Executive Board of VERBUND.
“We see this economically very positive project as milestone in reversing climate change and can use it to further expand our sustainability strategy,” according to the Executive Board’s duo of Energie Steiermark, Christian Purrer and Martin Graf. They continue: “Especially given the current coronavirus crisis, this investment represents a green employment boost for the regional economy and creates important stimuli in the region.”
Mur power plants are the long-distance runners of Styrian electricity generation
Electricity from hydropower is the most important renewable energy source in Styria. The power of the Mur has been used to generate electricity for more almost 120 years: “The hydropower plant on the Mur forms the backbone of renewable electricity generation in Styria. The run-of-river power plants supply electrical energy all year round in a way that can be planned, while the new Mur power plant at Gratkorn Mur will produce additional advantages for grid stability with its two vertically installed machine sets," say Karl Heinz Gruber and Michael Amerer, directors of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH.
The Mur will be routed around the power plant construction site from April
After the ground-breaking ceremony that took place today, the structural diversion of the Mur will be completed in the coming weeks. During the construction phase, this will result in a dry excavation pit in which the Gratkorn power plant will be erected from the summer of 2022. The commissioning of the latest community power plant of VERBUND and Energie Steiermark (Styria) is planned for the second half of 2024.
In addition to a broad-based bundle of environmentally friendly supporting measures, the new hydropower plant will also improve flood defences for the neighbouring communities to the north of Graz. A new, additional bridge over the Mur for cyclists, pedestrians and recreational athletes will be built in the vicinity of the power plant and will enhance the range of leisure activities and the cycle path network.
Local residents, communities and interest groups were involved in the project as part of a planning forum during the planning phase for the Gratkorn power plant already. With the official start of construction today this citizen communication will be continued in the form of regular construction site inspections.