Austria: Negotiations for revision of the renewable energy law (Ökostromgesetz)
The revision of the renewable energy law is within an ongoing negotiation process in Austria. The feed-in tariffs for biogas plants in Austria are phased out after 13 years and many biogas plants will be affected and will have to shut down operations. Operators and stakeholders of the Austrian biogas sector join forces to run successful negations with the aim to reach prolongations of subsidies for another seven years. Different initiatives, negotiations and campaigns are ongoing. With the slogan “Shutting down eco-power – restarting nuclear power!”, the Austrian Compost and Biogas Association is leading this process with support by the Chamber of Agriculture, Energy Grids Styria (Energienetze Steiermark) and the Styrian platform “Pro eco-power and bio-heat” (Pro Ökostrom und Biowärme) and many other initiatives.
First biogas plants operators have already shut down
Subsidies were phased out for seven of the 37 Styrian biogas plants. These plants have already been closed and eight more will be affected during 2017. By 2019, all operating biogas plants will have to shut down. Especially the loss of renewable heat will put the region in a difficult situation as 30,000 households are currently being provided.
The prolongation of subsidies for seven years should allow improvements of efficiency to produce biogas for market price soon. Currently, 70% of the price for ecological power is supported by tax payers. Efficiently running biogas plants – when providing electricity AND heat – should receive further subsidies.
Biogas technology – a provider of sustainability in Austria
The biogas sector contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emission mitigations. In the region of Styria, 6 million liter heating oil and 86,000 tons of CO2 savings are possible thanks to the biogas plants. Maria Pein, Vice-President of the Chamber of Agriculture summarised the important contributions to sustainability of the biogas technology as follows: “The biogas technology provides renewable power, renewable heat and odorless organic fertiliser which are essential for a reasonable energy mix of the future and sustainable agriculture in Austria. Agriculture is mainly exposed to climate change causing financial losses of several million euros and thus measures on mitigation have to be taken.” The biogas technology is also producing a lot of added value in Austrian regions as €95 from €100, spent by operators, stay in the region. Operators invest up to €110 million in Austria and created 3,500 new jobs in Austria.
Three years ago, the Austrian government promised to find a suitable solution to keep biogas plants running. The newly formed government renewed this promise in January and decisions were expected in March but no agreement could be found so far. With recent changes in Austrian internal affairs (resignation of Party Executives of the Peoples Party who held the position of Vice-Chanceller and the Green Party) these decisions are expected to be further postponed.
For more information, please consult this document (available in German).
More information on Der Standard: here.