Austria has joined the group of nations that have installed at least 1 GW of solar capacity in a single year.
Figures from the local solar association, PV Austria, show that 1.4 GW of PV were newly installed last year. “The final results will be available only from next summer,” a PV Austria spokesperson told pv magazine.
Austria installed 740 MW of new PV systems in 2021, 341 MW in 2020, and 247 MW in 2019. If the new figures for 2022 are confirmed, it means the country reached 4.2 GW cumulative PV capacity at the end of December. According to previous estimates by SolarPower Europe, Austria was not expected to become a gigawatt market last year.
The Austrian federal government created the framework under a new renewable energy law (EAG) to facilitate the rapid expansion of photovoltaics, but implementation also depends a lot on the federal states. In Lower Austria, for example, the state government has raised the expansion target to 3 GW by 2030, but it also reduced the area for solar parks that are larger than 2 hectares.
“PV zoning should be used more as a weapon against the energy crisis and high electricity prices. Regrettably, however, the areas for solar power systems have been reduced and so the photovoltaic target will certainly not be achieved,” says Herbert Paierl, the chairman of PV Austria.
It is unclear how many of the designated zones can actually be used. This is due to competing land uses, pending nature conservation reviews, complex ownership structures, and a lack of power grid capacities.
“The task of the future Lower Austrian provincial government will be, on the one hand, to carry out close monitoring of the actual land use and, on the other hand, to quickly designate further zones for solar power production,” said Paierl.
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