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Solid biomass in Austria

Renewable energy policy in Austria exists on three levels: the Federal level, the regional level of the provinces (Bundesländer) and the local level of municipalities. Important contributions from renewable energy sources regard large hydropower for electricity, biomass for heat and power and solar thermal installations. On the Federal level the programme klima:aktiv (started 2004 by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management) aims at reducing CO2-emission and increasing the penetration of renewable energy sources. Regarding renewables, focus is on biogas and biomass, solar thermal and heat pumps. Typical for the Austrian programmes is that they are easily accessible through the internet and through telephone hotlines. With the decision of the Green Electricity Act 2009 of 23 September 2009 in the National Council (confirmed October 8, 2009 in the Bundesrat) essential contents of the second Ökostromgesetz of 2008 entered into force. The decision of Parliament had become necessary because of concerns of the European Commission regarding the cost cap for energy intensive industry (Ökostromkostendeckelung) , which will therefore not enter into force.

The following changes can be observed:

According to the Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources the target for the share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy in the year 2020 for Austria is 34% (in the year 2005 the share was 23.3%). The Directive has a mandatory 10 % target for transport to be achieved by all Member States, which refers to renewable sources as a whole, not biofuels alone.

Renewable energy projections according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Austria
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Austria was submitted in July 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 34% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year is 34.2%.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from hydropower (42.1 TWh or 3621 ktoe, 39% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (3607 ktoe, 39% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from biomass (renewable electricity) (5.1 TWh or 443 ktoe, 5% of all renewable energy). Onshore wind power contributes with 2.6 GW (4.8 TWh) in the year 2020. For solar photovoltaic the 2020 contribution is projected to be 322 MW (306 GWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 269 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 410 ktoe (biodiesel) and 80 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 4.5 TWh (390 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 0.6 TWh (50 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 3591 ktoe for solid biomass and 16 ktoe for biogas.

Renewable heat and electricity: solid biomass
In Austria there is a huge variety of financial support programmes in the form of subsidies to private investors (farms, companies, others) that set up biomass installations e.g. small wood heating systems (logwood, woodchips or pellet heating systems), biomass district heating plants, small biomass CHP plants, small biogas plants. This support reaches 25 – 30 % of the total costs of investment. Federal and regional authorities spend per year about 60 M€ for support programmes.

A variety of subsidised loans for domestic renewable energy technology installations are able to owners of existing buildings and new buildings under construction. In the case of new-build, loans are also available for connecting a building to the district heating network and for buildings with different levels of kWh/m2 energy consumption.

For generation of electricity, an overview of tariff development is displayed below. Biomass sources of lesser quality have reduced feed-in tariffs. E-control provides detailed overviews of the tariffs.







Solid biomass < 2 MW






Solid biomass 2 - 5 MW






Solid biomass 5 - 10 MW






Solid biomass > 10 MW






Co-firing of solid biomass






Source: Einspeisetarife für Ökostromanlagen. For more details see 2009.pdf (sourced October 2009)
*          Year 11 and year 12 have reduced FIT: 75% and 50% respectively.

In August 2009 E-control,the Austian regulator for gas and power, has published a report (Bericht über die Stromkennzeichnung) that provided detailed insight in the electricity mix of Austrian suppliers.

Investment subsidies for biomass heating systems are granted in every province but their amounts and conditions are very diverse. In Lower and Upper Austria, Carinthia, Styria and Burgenland the subsidies account for 25 to 30% of the investment costs. In the other provinces the amounts partly depend on parameters like the type of the heating system, emissions and other parameters. In Vienna, for example, the amount is calculated on the basis of the investment costs, a factor which is based on the CO, NOx and other emissions according to the test report of the boiler plus a credit for maintenance costs. Furthermore a minimum efficiency (the value depends on the rated power of the boiler) is a precondition for the subsidy.

In Styria, since January 1st 2009 the following regulations concerning direct subsidies for biomass heating systems apply: the investment subsidy accounts for up to 25% of the total investment costs. The upper limits for pellet stoves and log wood gasifiers are 1.100 € and 1.400 € for pellet and wood chip central heating systems. Additionally, the installation of a circulation pump of the efficiency class A as well as hydraulic calibration are subsidized with 50 €. Additional building refurbishment is subsidized with 100 € and the installation of electrostatic particle precipitators with 500 €. For multi-family houses, the upper limits mentioned above are multiplied with the number of apartments. The Styrian subsidy for renewable heating systems within the “Eigenheim-förderung” (subsidy for house building) and the “Wohnhaussanierung“ (residential building refurbishment) also applies to biomass heating systems (see previous chap-ter).

In some regions in Austria, municipalities also grant subsidies for residential biomass heating systems. 

Future programme changes expected
Biomass is regarded as a very important source of renewable energy. It can be expected that in short-term future strong policy will remain to be in place.

Holzwaerme,, sourced November 2008

Austrian klima:aktiv programme, (sourced November 2008)

E-control, (sourced November 2008)

Interactive EurObserv’ER Database, (status 2007)

Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources,

RES-H Policy project, Renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector in Austria, by Gerald Kalt and Lukas Kranzl, March 2009,

E-control, (sourced October 2009)

E-control, 2009.pdf (sourced October 2009)

E-control, Bericht über die Stromkennzeichnung, August 2009 2009.pdf

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) are all published on the Transparency Platform on Renewable Energy: (sourced July - December 2010)

Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, (sourced December 2010)

Interactive EurObserv’ER Database
Last update: December 2010

This information can be referenced without permission provided that the source is mentioned completely and correctly: 'Interactive EurObserv'ER Database, (date of last update)'

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