Austria's solar association demands higher subsidy budget

A solar park in Austria. Image by Wien Energie GmbH.

February 25 (Renewables Now) - Austria should drastically increase the subsidy budget for solar plants in order to financially support the expansion of renewables across the country and reach its climate goals, according to the country's solar energy association PV Austria.

The annual budget for the so-called investment subsidy which is extended as a one-time financial stimulus for new solar projects and the expansion of existing plants should be boosted to at least EUR 144 million (USD 160.74m) for 2022 while a further EUR 30 million should be provided to support the installation of energy storage systems, PV Austria said on Thursday. The statement was made as a comment on the draft budget for the investment subsidy.

The Alpine country plans to deploy 1.1 GW of photovoltaic capacity per year as it needs to have at least 13 GWp of solar energy by the end of the decade when it aims to generate 100% of its electricity from renewables.

Great hopes were pinned on the Renewables Expansion Law (EAG) which was approved earlier this year as it was expected to give impetus to the installation of new capacity but the lack of financial support from the government is impeding the process. According to PV Austria, the project pipeline that has been built after the law was passed is huge but the government's draft budget for the investment subsidy does not provide enough financing. The draft does not reflect the government's expansion targets and the goal to install 1,100 MW of photovoltaic capacity per year, said PV Austria's chairman Herbert Paierl.

The investment subsidy is one of the two mechanisms under the EAG meant to promote investment in green energy in Austria. The other tool is a feed-in tariff which is paid for a period of 20 years to offset the difference between production costs and the fluctuating electricity prices on the market. Under the draft, the investment subsidy budget totals EUR 80 million and will be allocated through two calls in March and August.

(EUR 1 = USD 1.116)

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