28.06.2018 Dam congress meets in Vienna:
hydro power playing a key role in reaching climate targets

Talsperre

Of the 59,100 large dams worldwide, 11,800 are used to generate sustainable hydro power. Although Austria produces 77% of its electricity sustainably, just 28.2% of overall domestic energy consumption is served by renewable sources. The annual meeting of the International Commission On Large Dams from 2-6 July will bring around 2,000 international experts to Vienna.

“Dams have a very important role to play for a sustainable energy and water sector, for flood protection and for providing drinking water and irrigation,” explained Prof. Gerald Zenz, President of the Austrian National Committee for Dams, and Head of the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management at TU Graz. There are 175 large dams in Austria, more than 6,000 in Europe and over 59,000 worldwide. At the International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD) World Congress, which is taking place at the Austria Center Vienna from 2-6 July, all eyes will be on renewables – such as hydroelectricity – as countries work towards hitting their 2020 climate and energy targets. 

77% clean power generation in Austria, with 67% accounted for by hydroelectricity
Shifting the focus is essential, as at present as just 23.7% of all energy generated worldwide comes from renewable sources. 16.6% of this is accounted for by hydroelectricity, making it the world’s leading sustainable energy source. Austria has particularly strong sustainability credentials in this area, with 77% of the country’s energy output coming from renewables. 70% of this is hydroelectricity. “Thanks to the natural slopes of the Alps, the efficiency of our power stations is particularly high, at 95%. Our pumped storage power stations are also extremely efficient, at 75% – by way of comparison the maximum for gas-fired power stations is around 40%,” Prof. Zenz explained. 

Germany’s nuclear power phase-out leads to increased demand for hydro
Although sustainable energy production is already very well established in Austria, large amounts of energy are still imported from abroad. “Otherwise it would not be possible to meet the annual demand of 405 TWh. Of all the energy consumed in Austria, just 28.2% is currently accounted for by electricity from renewable sources.. For Austria to meet its 2020 targets, we will need to increase the share from sustainable sources to 34%,” Prof. Zenz noted. However, Germany’s withdrawal from nuclear power is leading to an overall increase in demand for renewable energy on the European market. Wind and solar power stations are among the options. But as they depend on the weather, a number of hydroelectric power stations will have to be added to the mix to counter the fluctuations in production associated with wind and solar plants. “In Austria we are already exploiting two thirds of the technical and ecological potential open to us – over the long term it would make sense to harness the remaining third as we work towards meeting our climate targets,” he explained.  

Austrian power stations setting international standards
Hydroelectric generation is a tried-and-tested method in Austria that offers a high degree of reliability, from planning and sustainable construction to ongoing operations. Planners, construction firms, operators, authorities, independent experts and universities – such as TU Graz – are all pulling in the same direction. As a result, the Kopswerk II and Oververmuntwerk II power stations in Vorarlberg are setting new and highly innovative standards internationally. “The fact that we can generate power through the turbines and store energy via pumps increases the efficiency of supply hugely. Rather than 1,500 hours a year, these plants are in operation for around 8,000 hours. These innovations also go a long way towards achieving our climate goals,” Prof. Zenz concluded.

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Gerald Zenz (c) Chris Hofer
Large dam (c) IAKW-AG, iStock,studio023
Hydroelecricity (c) IAKW-AG, iStock, doranjclark


About IAKW-AG
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. Visit www.acv.at for additional information.    

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