Innovation at VERBUND

As a leading domestic electricity company, here at VERBUND we’re advancing pioneering technologies and business models. We invest in innovation and work with partners on the development of sustainable solutions.

Whether electromobility, green hydrogen or new energy stores: VERBUND counts on innovation. As an industry bellwether, we are breaking new ground and actively helping to shape the energy future for households and companies. We do this by grabbing market opportunities and developing innovative business models and services together with partners and customers.

The clean energy future needs innovation – these issues are central

We are making the energy system fit for tomorrow on the basis of green electricity. We are working on innovative projects along the entire value chain – from electricity generation to distribution. In doing so, we are concentrating on the following key areas.

The priorities in our innovation work

VERBUND is one of the largest generators of electricity from hydropower in Europe. The renewable resource forms the heart of our company. The goal is to maintain our power plants and increase their efficiency. We also want to make environmentally sound use of existing potentials for new locations.
For us, smart energy management means designing the electricity system of the future together with consumers, who will increasingly become producers, too. Our goal is solutions that deliver value added for both sides.  

New renewable energies: wind power and solar power

In addition, we will be counting on the economic expansion of wind power and photovoltaics in the coming years. By 2030, one quarter of our total generation should come from such new renewable energies. In combination with our flexible storage power plants, we are therefore making an important contribution to the supply of green electricity in Austria and Europe.

Example projects at VERBUND

  • Germany’s largest hydropower project: expansion and modernisation of the 85 MW run-of-river power plant at Töging in Bavaria for one quarter more output and efficiency
  • Outdoor photovoltaic system: implementation of one of the largest outdoor PV plants in Lower Austria’s Weinviertel region with the industrial partner OMV

Hydrogen from renewable sources offers enormous potential: as a substitute for hydrogen made from natural gas, for the reduction of CO2 emissions in industry and mobility, and as a storage medium for wind and solar power. VERBUND is working with industrial and mobility partners on the breakthrough of green hydrogen in Austria.

Hydrogen from clean electricity

As the leading generator of electricity from hydropower, we are able to produce hydrogen from green electricity. In addition, we act as a provider of flexibility: fast-response REM electrolysis plants can also be used for grid services. That strengthens the transmission networks and opens up new sources of revenue for companies.

Example projects at VERBUND

  • Low-emission steel industry: construction of a PEM electrolysis plant at the voestalpine location in Linz (EU-funded flagship project H2FUTURE)
  • Climate-friendly refinery: production of hydrogen for mobility and refinery processes (KLIEN-funded industrial cooperation UpHy)
  • Use in gas power plant: test of a hydrogen technology with high-temperature fuel cells at the VERBUND location Mellach, Styria (research project HotFlex)

According to the government’s programme, 100% of Austria’s electricity should come from renewable sources in balance sheet terms by 2030. Large amounts of the electricity generation required for this will come from wind and solar power – decentral and weather-dependent. Sector coupling (the use of electricity in transport, heating and industry) will also increase the need for electricity in future in the sense of climate protection, as renewable electricity generation increasingly replaces fossil energy sources.

Innovative storage technologies

As the key to the energy future, electricity stores will enable the integration of renewable energies. They can store excess production for short periods of time and stabilise the grid. VERBUND relies on the combination of different storage technologies: from hydropower pumped storage facilities and green hydrogen to lithium-ion batteries.

Example projects at VERBUND

  • Local battery stores: intelligent stores in high-performance charging stations for electric cars (EU-funded project SYNERG-E)
  • Stable grid: short-term provision of system services with the aid of a battery storage system (KLIEN-funded project ABS4TSO)
  • Blue Battery: large battery store at the VERBUND Danube power plant at Wallsee-Mitterkirchen, Upper Austria

Transport is responsible for almost one third of greenhouse gas emissions in Austria. A sustainable alternative is renewable electricity as a means of propulsion. We are therefore working intensively on innovation projects at VERBUND and helping to shape the mobility of the future.

Austria-wide charging network

Together with partners from research and industry, we develop everyday infrastructure and concrete applications. Our subsidiary SMATRICS operates the largest fast-charging network for electric cars in Austria and offers services for business and private customers. The energy comes from 100% hydroelectricity.

Example projects at VERBUND

  • High-power charging: implementation of the first four high-power chargers for long-distance electric cars of the latest generation in Austria (EU-funded project ultra-E)
  • Cross-border, interoperable charging network: expansion of the charging network through projects with international energy companies such as EDF and Enel X as well as OEM partners

Advancing digitisation is opening up all sorts of opportunities: this enables the simplification of process and the development of new business models. VERBUND is working on projects along the entire value chain to utilise these possibilities. The focus is on innovative products and attractive services for industrial companies and private customers.

Digital hydropower plant

VERBUND leads in the development and testing of digital technologies in the area of energy. This enables to raise the performance of our plants and put measures in place to protect the climate. One future project is the Digital Hydropower Plant 4.0 in Rabenstein, Styria. Here, we are researching and developing, for example, new ways to maintain hydropower plants. 

Example projects at VERBUND

  • Virtually accessible hydropower plant model: support for training, emergencies, remodelling projects and power plant operation
  • Forecasting models for wind turbines: ice detectors measure surface temperatures and the thickness of ice layers directly on the rotor blade
  • VERBUND-Power-Pool: virtual power plant that bundles the loads of large consumers and the capacities of green electricity suppliers
  • VISION: an online communications and service portal for large customers (such as public utility companies, industrial facilities and remote wind and PV generators)
  • VOLERY: flexibilisation platform for trade customers based on the principle of swarm control

Research and development

An important step on the way to the future is the investigation of highly promising new technologies. To this end, we participate in Austrian and European research projects. Like our innovation focal points, the research projects are broad-based and make an important contribution to the energy transition.
franz zoechbauer public affairs VERBUND Franz Zöchbauer

Head of Corporate Innovation & New Business

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Cooperations with partners

Innovation arises through cooperation: this aspiration drives us forwards. To succeed, it needs networking and dialogue. Together with partners from science and research, innovative companies and start-ups, we create solutions with added value. We bundle our strengths for Austria as a business location in strategic partnerships with domestic leading companies such as voestalpine and OMV. We get access to young talents and fresh ideas through the cooperation with the Vienna University of Economics and Business in the Energy&Strategy Think Tank.  
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