The Austrian provinces of Styria and Lower Austria have taken more measures to push the deployment of wind and solar energy.
Styria, a mountainous province in the south of the country, has identified 37 priority zones in 34 municipalities with a total area of 824.55 hectares (2,037 acres) that are particularly suitable for the quick installation of large photovoltaic systems with an area of over 10 hectares each.
The zones that have been selected meet a number of criteria -- the distance from the nearest grid connection point is not more than 10 km and the areas are situated mainly on soils of low-to-medium or low quality. Areas in the high-quality and medium-to-high-quality soil categories were excluded from the selection process.
The province needs 2.8 GW of solar capacity to reach 100% renewables share in its power mix and the local government gives priority to installations on roofs, facades, parking lots and landfills which is expected to provide 40% of the needed capacity. The remaining 60% should come from ground-mounted solar parks.
According to Styria's councillor Johann Seitinger, the draft regulation for the designation of priority zones is a necessary compromise that combines the security of regional food production with the need for rapid solar expansion. The province must take advantage of every opportunity to reduce its dependence on energy imports but it is crucial that the areas of the highest quality remain for agricultural production, Seitinger commented.
Lower Austria, located in the northeastern corner of the Alpine country, has recently presented a plan that envisages tripling wind energy and quadrupling solar power in the province and producing a total of over 10,000 GWh of additional clean electricity.
The province has selected 116 zones such as sewage treatment plants or landfills to build solar parks and other areas proposed by local municipalities are currently being examined.
A total of 15,000 new solar systems are expected to go online across the province in 2023 and the local government will provide an additional EUR 4 million (USD 4.35m) in subsidies to incentivise the installation of solar systems on existing parking lots.
To drive the wind energy rollout, deputy governor Stephan Pernkopf has commissioned the designation of areas for the installation of a further 250 turbines. This should be made possible through the expansion of existing zones and the selection of entirely new zones. The selection process should be completed this year.
Overall, a total of 770 wind turbines are currently in operation across Lower Austria and 39 of them were added in 2022. As many as 31 machines are now under construction and will be connected to the grid this year, adding a further 165 MW of installed capacity.
(EUR 1 = USD 1.090)
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