04.04.2019 14,000 geoscientists will get together in Vienna to discuss various questions, including: where will our energy come from in future? 

EGU 2019 Austria Center Vienna Bild vergrößern

Concerns over climate change and the future of our planet have to be considered against the backdrop of increasing global demand for energy. International researchers will discuss climate protection and the energy transformation, in addition to a host of other subjects at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) held at the Austria Center Vienna from 7-12 April. 

“Renewable energy forms have come on in leaps and bounds in the EU in recent years,” said Sonja Martens, President of the EGU’s Energy, Resources and the Environment division. While renewables accounted for 8.5% of gross final energy consumption in Europe in 2004, this figure had reached 17.5% by 2017. At 32.6%, renewables’ share of the total in Austria in 2017 was almost twice the EU average. “In this respect, Austria certainly plays a pioneering role,” Martens noted. 

Effects of climate change on hydro?
The pioneering role played by Austria comes into particularly sharp focus as far as renewable power generation is concerned: in 2016, 72% of electricity came from renewables, as opposed to just 30% for the rest of the European Union. This is chiefly due to the high proportion of generation from hydro and thermal power stations: “Austria is the ideal country for generating electricity from water, which is why this method has such a strong tradition and hydro is so well-established. Beyond that, as in other EU countries, recent years have seen investment in wind and solar power in Austria,” Martens explained. At the same time, our most important source of electricity is the most susceptible to climate change: with global warming currently estimated at 1.5 to 2°C, the likelihood of water stress – an imbalance between the amount of water available and actual water consumption – is set to increase. However, there are no climate models that give grounds for concerns about acute water shortages in Austria. “One challenge for the future will definitely be to intensify cooperation between the water and energy sectors and coordinate upstream withdrawals from reservoirs, as hydroelectric generation will continue to play an important role in future,“ Martens explained. 

Harnessing the potential of biomass
Incorporating bioenergy as one of the mainstays of energy supply is a central aspect of Austria’s pioneering role. This form of energy – generated from wood, energy crops, biogenic waste and other forms of biomass – still holds considerable potential. “Expanding power generation in the long run in the forestry, agricultural and waste sectors is certainly still conceivable, such as in decentralised systems that make the most of existing potential in urban and rural areas within a given region. From an infrastructure perspective, Austria is already very well placed – not least thanks to the extensive high voltage ring and the numerous storage power stations in the Alps,” Martens said.  

Interdisciplinary exchange essential 
The Energy, Resources and the Environment division was set up at the time of the EGU’s foundation in 2002, to give international researchers from various geoscientific disciplines and facilities the opportunity to come together and sound out options for the provision of reliable, sustainable and affordable forms of energy. “The EGU General Assembly in Vienna is the ideal platform for exchanging research findings and, in doing so, making use of synergies between the various disciplines involved,” Martens emphasised. 

Public talk at the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna
Vienna residents are invited to attend a German-language talk entitled “Vom Alltag zwischen Atmosphäre und Orbit – ein Bericht” on 11 April at 7pm at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Climate researcher and aspiring astronaut Ilse Thiele-Eich will talk about her experiences, from her research activities to preparing for the flight to the International Space Station.

Admission is free, advance registration is required: https://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/European_Geosciences_Union_Public_Lecture

About EGU General Assembly 2019
The EGU General Assembly 2019, is the largest geosciences conference in Europe, and will bring together over 14.000 geoscientists from all over the world to one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences. Among over 1000 sessions, it features a Union symposium on climate tipping points, debates on both the safe operating space for the planet and on open access publishing (Plan S), and a session on science, politics and European (dis)integration featuring Mario Monti. More information at https://www.egu.eu/news/477/former-italian-prime-minister-and-european-commissioner-mario-monti-and-former-italian-parliamentarian-ilaria-capua-at-the-egu-meeting/.

In this year’s press conferences, journalists can find out where scientists are planning to drill for the oldest ice on Earth, what the latest research on plastic pollution is, and much more. All information about the press conferences and the press releases are available at https://www.egu.eu/gamedia/2019/press-conferences/.

Information for media participants (including eligibility for media registration) can be found at https://www.egu.eu/gamedia/2019/.

The EGU 2019 press conferences and selected sessions will be broadcast via a live web stream before being made available online. Visit https://egu2019.eu/abstracts_and_programme/webstreaming.html for additional information.

Press release


Internationales Amtssitz- und Konferenzzentrum Wien, Aktiengesellschaft (IAKW-AG) is responsible for maintaining the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and operating the Austria Center Vienna (ACV). The Austria Center Vienna is Austria’s largest conference centre, with 24 halls, 180 meeting rooms, and some 22,000m² of exhibition space, and is one of the top players on the international conference circuit. 

IAKW-AG – Austria Center Vienna
Carina Fuchs
Deputy press officer
Tel: +43-676-84 565 33 32
Email: carina.fuchs@acv.at