Largest Austrian state now 100% renewable

The largest state in Austria now runs on 100% clean and renewable energy, officials confirmed on Thursday.

Erwin Proell, premier of Lower Austria, which has a population of 1.65 million, told a news conference that the state is now generating its electricity solely from renewable sources, led by hydroelectric power, which supplies 63% of the state’s energy.

Solar PV’s share is comparatively low, at 2%, but is part of a growing mix of alternative fuel sources, including wind power (36%) and biomass (9%) that is altering the state’s energy landscape.

"We have invested heavily to boost energy efficiency and to expand renewables," said Proell. "Since 2002 we have invested $3 billion in eco-electricity, from solar parks to renewing hydroelectric stations on the Danube."

According to the premier, these initiatives have helped nurture some 38,000 green jobs, and Lower Austria hopes to increase that figure to 50,000 by 2030.

Solar PV in Austria is not as prominent as in neighboring countries such as Germany or Italy, but data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published in pv magazine’s November issue reveals that the country is on course to around 200 MW of new PV capacity this year, and is forecast to hit 215 MW in 2016. Cumulatively, Austria has approximately slightly more than 800 MW of solar PV installed according to the IEA-PVPS.