Groundbreaking for Salzach power plant Stegenwald: VERBUND and Salzburg AG as trendsetters for the energy transition.


VERBUND and Salzburg AG are continuing the traditional cooperation on the middle Salzach and performing their role as trendsetters of the energy transition. Today, 30 June 2023, another step towards a renewable energy future was taken with the groundbreaking for the Stegenwald hydropower plant. The starting shot for the expansion of the renewable electricity supply from hydropower in Stegenwald was given by VERBUND Executive Board member Achim Kaspar, VERBUND Wasserkraft managing directors Michael Amerer and Karl Heinz Gruber as well as Salzburg AG Executive Board members Michael Baminger and Brigitte Bach together with provincial governor Wilfried Haslauer and provincial councillor Josef Schwaiger. The power plant is expected to take a little over two years to construct. Both companies are together investing around 100 million euros in this sustainable, regional power plant project. The power plant will generate as much electricity each year as is consumed by 20,000 households on average.

The province of Salzburg has undertaken to become climate neutral, energy self-sufficient and sustainable with the Climate and Energy Strategy Salzburg 2050. That means: zero percent greenhouse gas emissions and 100 percent electricity and heat from renewable sources of energy. Provincial governor Wilfried Haslauer, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Salzburg AG, sees the construction of the hydropower plant as a milestone: "With the construction of the Stegenwald power plant, we are taking a resolute step forwards as a federal province when it comes to the expansion of renewable energy generation. The current situation shows us that there is no getting around make Salzburg energy self-sufficient. To achieve this, we must above all continue to advance the expansion of renewable energy generation. With this investment, VERBUND and Salzburg AG are taking a big step towards regional, independent energy generation together."

Provincial councillor Josef Schwaiger also underscores the importance of hydropower for the federal province of Salzburg: "Despite the fluctuation caused by varying flow volumes, hydropower is one of the most reliable and consistent sources of energy in our province. With this groundbreaking, we are therefore taking another step to reducing our dependency on third parties for energy supplies," says provincial councillor for energy Sepp Schwaiger, adding: "When it comes to covering future energy needs, it must never be a question of water or wind power, photovoltaics or biomass – we will need them all, and procedures and conditions for this must be designed so that projects can be implemented within realistic timeframes." After a little more than two years under construction, the Stegenwald power plant will feed 72.8 million kilowatt hours a year into the grid, equivalent to the amount consumed by around 20,000 households on average. That is roughly the same as the size of Hallein, the second largest city in the federal province of Salzburg.

VERBUND Executive Board member Achim Kaspar emphasises the traditional cooperation on the expansion of hydropower: "VERBUND and Salzburg AG are once again proving on the Salzach that there are good reasons why hydropower is one of the key pillars of the renewable energy future. We will need each kilowatt hour we are able to generate. Stegenwald power plant therefore stands for clean, ecologically compatible and sustainable energy from the province of Salzburg."

"There is no alternative to the energy transition, so we have to use all the possibilities of renewables – from sun and biomass to water and wind. Hydropower is the champion of renewable energies and supplies clean electricity throughout the year," emphasise the Executive Board members of Salzburg AG, Michael Baminger and Brigitte Bach. The run-of-river power plant on the middle Salzach should supply 72.8 GWh of electricity (p.a.) once complete. Two turbines enable a bottleneck capacity of 14.3 MW. Together, Salzburg AG and VERBUND are investing around 100 million euros in the power plant, with each of the partners putting in half that amount.

"Hydropower is quintessentially Austrian," says Michael Amerer, Managing Director of VERBUND Wasserkraft, focusing on the project's value added: "The high level of competence in matters of hydropower can also be seen in the procurement process: traditionally, we can rely on domestic companies, which bring a lot of experience to the projects. Thus 2/3 of the value added generated by hydropower projects remain in the country on average. Jobs are also secured: more than seven full-time jobs for each million euros invested.

The ecological aspects of hydropower were highlighted by Wasserkraft Managing Director Karl Heinz Gruber: "Hydropower not only supplies easily plannable, renewable electricity and contributes to the reduction of CO2. It also directly fulfils the region's high environmental aspirations. Here in Stegenwald, we are constructing a 100 metre-long, natural connecting water body in order to maintain consistency in the Salzach. And we are creating valuable natural spaces and habitats for animals and plants and ultimately also for us humans through a raft of ecological measures on land and in the water. That is what hydropower is all about – hydropower can do ecology."          

Key data Stegenwald power plant
Plant type: run-of-river power plant
Catchment area: 3,106.4 km²
Average annual generation (electricity): 72.8 GWh p.a.
Bottleneck capacity (electricity): 14.3 MW
Turbines: 2 Kaplan turbines