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Everything about the new Renewable Expansion Act (EAG) in Austria
Austria on the way to 100% green electricity
Austria has set itself the goal of covering 100% of its electricity consumption (in balance) from renewable energies in 2030. In order to be able to achieve this, a new funding law is being processed - the "Renewable Expansion Act" (EAG). The draft bill was submitted in September 2020, and the draft bill for the Council of Ministers was passed in March 2021. The Renewable Energy Act is expected to come into force before the summer of this year, thus succeeding the Green Electricity Act 2012.
In Q3 2021, the Austrian government is expected to adopt the new EAEC. The time pressure is great, as there is an urgent need for new funding in Austria
The Goals of the EAG
In 2030, 100% of Austria's electricity consumption (on a national balance sheet basis) is to be covered by renewables. This requires 27 TWh of additional renewable generation capacity. Photovoltaic generation capacity is to be expanded by 11 TWh, the expansion target for wind power is 10 TWh, for hydropower 5 TWh (with a breakdown between small hydropower and large hydropower based on ecological potential) and for biomass
The new subsidies
Photovoltaics: For new plants and plant extensions with a bottleneck capacity of up to 1,000 kWp, an investment grant can be applied for. The plant must be located on a building, a structural facility, paved area, railroad facility, waste disposal facility, landfill or in the open space (if a PV dedication is available). For ground-mounted systems smaller than 100 kWp, no special dedication is required as an eligibility requirement. Systems in open space receive a 25% discount on the investment subsidy, while innovative PV systems (such as building-integrated photovoltaics) receive a 30% surcharge. The annual subsidy amounts to 60 million euros. For photovoltaic systems with a bottleneck capacity of at least 10 kWp, a subsidy can be applied for by means of a market premium in tendering procedures. The annual tender volume amounts to 700 MWp. The 25% subsidy discount for ground-mounted systems is also applied here.
Wind power: Newly constructed and expanded wind power plants will be subsidized in the future by means of an administratively defined market premium. The annual allocation volume is 400 MW. From 2024, the market premium will be determined by means of tenders and a corrective surcharge factor will be applied, which is intended to reflect the different electricity yields of wind power plants due to their location in the allocation of subsidies. For the new construction of smaller wind turbines (20 kW - 1 MW), the subsidy is provided in the form of an investment grant. The annual subsidy amounts to one million euros.
Hydropower: An administratively determined market premium is granted for new installations and extensions of hydropower plants up to 25 MW and for revitalizations up to 1 MW (or for the first 10 MW of larger revitalized plants). Excluded from the subsidy are plants that are located in water bodies with a very good ecological status or that would worsen the conservation status of protected assets. The latter ecological eligibility criterion does not apply to plants for which an EIA procedure is already pending and which improve the conservation status of other protected assets or compensate twice for the loss of habitats.The annual award volume amounts to 75 MW.
Biomass: New and repowered biomass plants with a bottleneck capacity of up to 5 MWel (as well as the first 5 MWel of newly constructed plants above 5 MWel) are subsidized by means of a tendered market premium if a fuel utilization rate of at least 60% is achieved. Upon application, follow-up premiums can be granted for existing biomass plants without size limitation (until the end of the 30th year of operation).
A renewable energy community or civic energy community may generate energy from renewable sources, consume, store or sell the energy it generates itself. Furthermore, it may be active in the field of aggregation and provide other energy services. Members or shareholders of a renewable energy community are natural persons, municipalities, legal entities of public authorities or small and medium-sized enterprises. A renewable energy community shall consist of two or more members or shareholders and shall be organized as an association, cooperative, partnership, corporation, community of owners or similar association with legal personality. Its primary purpose is not financial gain. Participation in a renewable energy community or a citizens' energy community is to be possible as of Jan. 1, 2022, according to the government bill.
The group of participants has also been extended to operators of wind farms, hydropower plants or larger PV plants, as long as they are not controlled by a utility, supplier or electricity trader. In contrast to the draft assessment, the generation plant can also be owned by third parties, making leasing and contracting models possible. Energy communities can thus also hand over the maintenance and operational management of the generation plant to third parties.
An energy community can be both owner and operator of distribution networks. Section 79 (3) of the Renewable Energy Act also provides for a cost-benefit analysis with regard to system costs by the ECA by March 2024. The analysis is also to include consideration of balancing energy costs.
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