As a result of the liberalization of the power market a year ago, Austria’s “electricity highways“ are open to a larger circle of power companies and large-scale consumers now. However, “free passage“ on this high-voltage network is restricted by technological bottlenecks.
“Austria’s supergrid is fragmented and lags behind on an international level“, Dr. Armin Seidl and Thomas Karall, managers of VERBUND-Austrian Power Grid GmbH (APG), the largest Austrian power transporter, said today, Friday, on the occasion of a press interview in Vienna. “A quick decision for the expansion of the supergrid is necessary.“
“Until the decision for the further expansion of the 380-kV-grid is taken, there will be bottlenecks in the supraregional domestic network“, said Mr. Seidl. Filling the gap between Southern Burgenland and Southeastern Styria is a particularly important goal, since the existing 220-kV-connection between Vienna and Styria has been under a considerable strain and thus the biggest potential trouble spot in the domestic supergrid for years.
“APG in principle welcomes a quick and complete opening of the market in Austria“, Mr. Karall stated. “However, this will mean an increased number of bottlenecks in the domestic grid. Basically no problems will arise for the country’s safe power supply, which continues to have absolute priority for us. The further expansion of the 380-kV-grid, however, would strongly increase the security of supply in individual expanding large regions and noticeably reduce transmission losses“, Mr. Seidl and Mr. Karall said.
That APG is able to combine the construction of new supergrids with aspects of eco-friendliness and landscape protection, while at the same time increasing the security of supply significantly, was proved not least by the 380-kV-connection Vienna-Southern Burgenland, inaugurated in Dezember 1999, which was readily approved by the public.
VERBUND-Austrian Power Grid GmbH (APG) was founded by VERBUND, Austria’s leading power company, more than a year ago, to meet the EU-requirement of unbundling – the separation of production, transmission, and distribution of electricity – in its strongest form, i.e. also in terms of corporate law.
Today, APG, with a balance sheet total of approx. 13.5 billion ATS (980 million EUR) and a turnover of approx. 3.9 billion ATS (280 million EUR), is Austria’s largest transporter of electricity. In its 6,900-kilometer-grid, APG – from the “power control centre“ (main control line Vienna-Southeast) and 43 substations and control centres – organizes, controls and monitors the largest part of all power transports on a 110-, 220- and 380-kV-level, and in accordance with statutory regulations.
As independent grid operator of overriding importance, APG has to treat equally the applications for power transportation filed by all customers that have by and by been approved under the valid ElWOG (Public Electricity Supply Act). By 19 February, 1999, 78 big power consumer have had free access to the market; when the second stage starts tomorrow, 19 Februar, 2000, it will be 142 companies.
In the first year of liberalization, APG has carried out more than 4,500 power transports in the free power market. In 1999, a new APG peak value was reached in electric power transportation with 35,600 Gigawatt hours (GWh).
A comparative value: In the year 1999 the domestic power consumption totalled 47,700 GWh.