Our future's power treasure


Small-scale hydropower in Salzburg

The utilisation of hydropower has a centuries-old tradition in Salzburg. Numerous small-scale hydropower plants contribute a valuable part to green electricity production.

About 450 small-scale hydropower plants (of which approximately 250 are accredited as green electricity plants):

  • deliver approximately 825 million kWh of green electricity a year to the public power supply;
  • provide electricity for about 235,000 households; and
  • avoid about 580,000 tons of CO2 a year in comparison with the generation of electricity through fossil energy sources.

(Source: E-Control, “Kleinwasserkraft Österreich“)

Industrial location of Salzburg

Salzburg emerged as a central trading hub in the 16th century already, as the salt trade, the exploration of gold and other natural resources began to flourish. As an attractive economical location, Salzburg accomodates numerous international companies today, such as Atomic, Red Bull, Liebherr or the ironwork Sulzau-Werfen. This results in a constantly growing energy requirement, that is largely covered by hydropower.

Hydropower through the ages

Over the last 100 years the dimensions related to the performance of hydroelectric power plants have considerably shifted. For example, the “Salzburger Aktiengesellschaft für Elektrizitätswirtschaft“ (SAFE, now Salzburg AG) put the “Bärenwerk“ into operation in 1924, which, with a performance of about 8,000 kWh, was in those days considered a large-scale power plant. But this has changed. Until 2014, when the „Bärenwerk“ has been revitalized, it ran under the category of small-scale hydropower plants. In the course of the revitalization, the bottleneck capacity has been raised to 14,96 MW, and therefore the „Bärenwerk“ is now considered a middle-scale hydropower plant.

Energy concept in Salzburg 1997-2011

Salzburg drafted an ambitioned energy concept in 1997, which is shaped strongly by the idea of sustainable environment and climate protection. Until 2011, the aim was a reduction of energy consumption by 28 percent as well as a decrease of CO2-emission. In addition, the green electricity act demands an increase of the nationwide percentage of small-scale hydropower to 9 percent.

For this reason, and because of the numerous advantages of small-scale hydropower, it is of public interest to accelerate their development. Every kilowatt-hour of electricity through the renewable power source water replaces electricity produced by nuclear power or by caloric power plants, which pollute the environment with CO2-emission. Evidently both, public authorities and operators of power plants, set a high value on the ecological justification of utilising small-scale hydropower and on an ideal integration of the facilities in the ecosystem.

Hydraulic energy – the engine of regional economy

Hydropower plants are well-accepted by the population and are deep-seated in the regional economy. Above all, new construction as well as revitalisation and optimisation of small-scale hydropower plants result in high domestic value creation effects with positive consequences to regional employment (turbine construction, building construction, subconstruction work, etc.).

The Salzburg Hydropower Consultants - consultation campaign for operators of small-scale hydropower plants

Salzburg offers high potential in the field of small-scale hydropower. According to investigations there is a considerable possibility of increasing electricity production, especially in the revitalisation of power plants. In order to use this potential, the Salzburg Hydropower Consultants support operators of power plants through professional consultancy in improving efficiency measures, as well as reactivating inoperative facilities.


Dr.in Sophie Uitz

County Representative Salzburg

Tel.: +43 699 14089001