Climate protection minister visited Danube power plant Ybbs-Persenbeug

21.07.2022Ybbs, Persenbeug-Gottsdorf

On a visit to the Danube power plant Ybbs-Persenbeug, climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler, accompanied by National Council member Alois Schroll, learned about the capability of hydropower and the possibilities of generating additional, safe, domestic hydroelectricity in existing plants from VERBUND CEO Michael Strugl and hydropower managing director Karl Heinz Gruber.

The energy future needs solidarity and a joint effort between society and industry. Not only for the climate, but also in terms of independence from fossil energy imports, which are currently driving up prices due to the war in Ukraine. Austria's high proportion of renewables in its electricity supply is already an important basis in matters relating to security of supply and climate protection. However, renewable generation will have to be expanded by a further 27 billion kilowatt hours by 2030. This is almost 50% more than is currently generated, in order to cover the fossil energy sources that are still required as well as the rising demand for electricity. 

"The crisis in the fossil energy system triggered by Russia is once again showing us how urgently we need to switch to renewable energy, especially for electricity generation. By 2030, all electricity consumed in Austria will be obtained from renewable energy. That is our stated goal. The objective now is to free ourselves from Vladimir Putin's grasp kilowatt hour by kilowatt hour with wind, with sun, with biomass – and with hydropower. That is a national effort that challenges us all – and for which we must all pull together. For many years, VERBUND has been an ally on the way to Austria's independence from fossil raw materials and will continue to play an important role in this in the future. So I thank you very much for that," said climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler.

Investments in domestic hydropower

"Here at this location, we are investing €144m in domestic hydropower, the mainstay of renewable generation in Austria. Following completion of the revitalisation, the oldest Danube power plant in the country will supply an additional 77 million kilowatt hours of electricity. That's enough to cover the annual power consumption of 22,000 households and save 62,000 tonnes of CO2. This will bring us a step closer to achieving the country's energy targets," says Michael Strugl, Chairman of the Executive Board of VERBUND, convinced that hydropower, together with wind and solar, will continue to characterise the renewable energy future in Austria. "When the underlying conditions are right, VERBUND will increase generation by over 1 billion kilowatt hours and the flexibility capacity by over 2,000 megawatts with hydropower in Austria and Bavaria alone, deploying an investment package of over 5 billion euros."
Karl Heinz Gruber, managing director of VERBUND-Wasserkraft, explained the technical aspects of the renovation of the Ybbs-Persenbeug power plant, which will be completed in 2022: "Hydropower is not only a domestic but also a safe and highly efficient form of generation that we can use with great success in Austria. However, we are able to optimise existing plants even further by means of calculation and design options. After more than 400,000 operating hours, which generated more than 70 billion kilowatt hours of electricity for Austria, we were able to increase the power plant's efficiency a full 6% by replacing all 6 sets of old machinery. This is also part of our hydropower strategy for a safe and clean energy future: continuous maintenance, modernisation and greening of our existing plants and – wherever possible – cautious, ecologically compatible expansions of the power plant fleet." 
SPÖ energy spokesperson and former mayor of Ybbs, Alois Schroll: "I'm delighted that energy minister Leonore Gewessler accepted my invitation to visit the Danube power plant at Ybbs-Persenbeug and that we can be here today together with VERBUND CEO Michael Strugl in this impressive place, nestled in this beautiful natural landscape. Ybbs-Persenbeug was Austria's first power plant on the Danube. It stands as a symbol of how we must accelerate and invest in obtaining energy from renewable sources more than ever before. Social democracy has the clear goal of obtaining 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources so that we can ensure an affordable, regenerative and secure supply of energy for Austria's population."

Hydropower and ecology

The Ybbs-Persenbeug power plant is also a living example of how nature and the environment can be positively developed, including in interaction with hydropower. Around the power plant, VERBUND has already implemented successful measures to improve the Danube habitat in the LIFE project "Network Danube". This approach has created new, valuable habitats and spawning grounds. 
Additional, even more extensive improvements will be implemented in the coming years as part of the extremely broad-based EU LIFE project "Blue Belt Danube Inn". Once this project is complete, the Danube will be fully passable to fish again from the Iron Gate on the border between Romania and Serbia as far as Passau and also on the river Inn up into Switzerland. In Ybbs-Persenbeug, a compact fish pass will help ensure that aquatic life can continue its migration past the power plant.


Portrait Florian Seidl Florian Seidl

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