The Danube

The Danube is Austria’s most important source of energy. Europe's second largest river supplies electricity for generations.

Energy on the Danube

The Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, is the biggest source of energy for the hydropower plants of VERBUND in Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna. It supplies enormous quantities of environmentally friendly electricity from renewable hydropower. The diverse use of the Danube means increasing responsibility for us as people today: on the hand one, we want to use it to satisfy the hunger for energy of our modern lifestyle in an intelligent and clean way; on the other, we want to keep interventions in the Danube to a minimum in order to strength the species diversity of the Danube for coming generations.

Gigantic endurance runner on the Danube

The machine sets at the VERBUND Danube power plants are amongst the biggest in Central Europe. One of the Kaplan turbines has a diameter of 7.5 metres. Thanks to the highly predictable permanent operation, the Danube power plants form the backbone of the domestic electricity supply.

More electricity from the Danube

Austria’s biggest revitalisation measure is soon to be completed in Ybbs-Persenbeug. Inside Austria’s oldest Danube power plant, the machine sets and control systems from the 1950s are being replaced piece by piece. The revitalised plan now generates 77 million kilowatt hours more than before.
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What do power plants do in the event of flooding?

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Danube power plants and flooding

Due to heavy precipitation along the entire northern edge of the Alps, a century flood wave rushed through the Danube valley, causing widespread damage. The Eferdinger Basin, which does not have any flood protection, was hit by a flood such as occurs statistically only every 250 years. The water masses surpassed even the amount from the century flood of 1954. And yet, the high water levels of 1954 were not reached.

In the event of flooding, Danube power plants do not have any means of holding water back. Power plants do help regulate the water level in accordance with officially specified guidelines, the Weir Operating Regulations. The main goal is to protect the dams and the people who live behind them.

Assessments and analyses

In the official flooding report, the Supreme Water Authority (part of the Ministry of Life) confirmed that VERBUND's personnel did everything in their power during the flood to minimise damage as much as possible.

In cooperation with the hydrographic departments of the individual provinces, the Ministry of the Environment presented a detailed analysis of the flooding in June 2013. Besides official data on the event, there is also a comparison with previous catastrophic floods.

Link: The flood in June 2013 – the hydrographic analysis (German only)

In July 1954, a catastrophic Danube flood shocked the young, still occupied Austria. Back then, aid transports from all over Europe alleviated the worst needs. Contemporary media describe vast destruction, particularly in Upper Austria. The Oberösterreichischen Nachrichten newspaper lamented the loss of "50,000 hectares of fertile ground". The farm land was transformed into a "desert of mud", as the Arbeiter-Zeitung newspaper wrote; and the Linzer Volksblatt newspaper reports a "sand desert from Eferding to the Danube".

Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, 12/7/1954 (German only)

Arbeiterzeitung, 21/7/1954 (German only)

Linzer Volksblatt, 21/7/1954 (German only)

Deliberations on how the construction of power plants should work with respect to Danube flooding governed the technicians' discussions. In the chapter "Planning, history and policies of the Danube power plants", the author Kurt Liewehr notes: "Therefore, the Donaukraftwerke AG may not safeguard flood plains through its construction projects. On the contrary, it must attach great importance to maintaining these retention areas, which are of paramount importance for collecting and holding back the flood torrents and for moderating flood peaks."

From: The Danube as a Hydropower Route (German only) (PDF). Published by Österreichischen Donaukraftwerke AG, publishing house Alfred A. Koska Vienna, Berlin 1975.

Our power plants at the Danube

Power plants Output Annual production Initial operation Region Waterbody Turbines 
Abwinden-Asten 168 MW 995,700 MWh 1980 Austria, Upper Austria Danube Kaplan
Altenwörth 328 MW 1,967,600 MWh 1976 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Aschach 287 MW 1,686,400 MWh 1964 Austria, Upper Austria Danube Kaplan
Riedl Energy Store 300 MW - - Germany, Bavaria Danube
Greifenstein 293 MW 1,717,300 MWh 1985 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Jochenstein 132 MW 850,000 MWh 1956 Germany, Bavaria Danube Kaplan
Melk 187 MW 1,221,600 MWh 1982 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Ottensheim-Wilhering 179 MW 1,134,900 MWh 1975 Austria, Upper Austria Danube Kaplan
Wallsee-Mitterkirchen 210 MW 1,318,800 MWh 1969 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Vienna-Freudenau 172 MW 1,052,000 MWh 1999 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Ybbs 2020 - Renewal of the Turbines additional 18 MW zusätzlich 60,000 MWh - Austria, Lower Austria Danube
Ybbs-Persenbeug 236 MW 1,335,900 MWh 1960 Austria, Lower Austria Danube Kaplan
Nussdorf in Vienna 5 MW 28,141 MWh 2005 Austria,Vienna Danube Canal Kaplan
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Ybbs-Persenbeug an der Donau

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