A steady decline in wind power additions has continued in Austria in 2016, when only 228MW were installed, down from 323MW a year earlier and 405MW in 2014, leading to increased concern about stranded assets and intensified calls for a reform of the renewables support legislation.
The accumulated capacity reached 2.63GW at the end of last year, which enabled the Alpine country to meet 9% of its electricity needs with wind, but the slowdown in the expansion endangers Austria’s aim to be 100% renewables-powered by 2030, wind association IG Windkraft fears.
Due to the slow-down in the expansion, 260 already permitted turbines are currently waiting to be built, with a combined capacity of 850MW, and estimated investments of €1.4bn ($1.49bn). As permits without a support guarantee expire after three years, 190 of those turbines currently have no chance to be constructed, according to the association.
“The wind power expansion could be boosted again quickly through a small reform of the Green Energy Law (Ökostromgesetz),” IG Windkraft managing director Stefan Moidl says.
The lull in new additions came after the government in Vienna in late 2015 had lowered feed-in tariff support for new installations, as well as due to a cap in overall renewables support.
Due to the mechanism of the support system, falling electricity wholesale prices had the effect that with the same volume of support in 2016 only half as many turbines could be built as in 2011, IG Windkraft says.
Vestas Central Europe president Nils de Baar stressed it is important that Austria as a hub for Central and Eastern Europe clearly stands behind wind energy.
“We welcome Austria’s decision to fully reach the Energiewende (energy transition) in the electricity sector by 2030,” de Baar said.
But “currently we are concerned about the reform delay in green power legislation.”
Vestas last year had a 23% share of the Austrian market, behind its rivals Enercon with 47% and Senvion with 30%.
IG Windkraft reckons Austria needs to add 300MW in wind power each year in order to reach its 100% RE target by 2030. The group, however, thinks wind additions in 2017 will shrink further to 186MW this year if the support system isn’t amended.