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Small-scale hydropower in Tirol

The utilisation of hydropower has long tradition in the mountain county of Tirol. Since the 20th century especially small-scale hydropower plants have been contributing a valuable part to green electricity production.

Figures of small-scale hydropower in Tirol
About 950 small-scale hydropower plants (of which approx. 430 are accredited as green electricity plants):

  • deliver approximately 1.52 billion kWh of green electricity a year to the public power supply;
  • provide electricity for about 435,000 households; and
  • avoid about 1.1 million tons of CO2 a year in comparison with the generation of electricity through fossil energy sources.

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

Tirol - the industrial county

The industry has been playing an important role in Tirol for centuries. The beginning goes as far back as the 16th century, when the Schwazer Mining developed to be the first industrial large concern. The second supporting leg of industrial development was the textile and clothing industry. Today, Tirol is home to over 400 well-respected industrial companies such as Swarovski, Riedel and Sandoz. In the field of industry, the export share lies at over 70 percent. This results in a constantly growing energy consumption, which is largely covered by electricity provided by hydropower.

Small-scale hydropower has development potential

In Tirol, power production without small-scale hydropower is not imaginable anymore. Small-scale hydropower plants stabilise the public electricity network and also guarantee the security of supplies for the valleys of Tirol in times of crisis. Small-scale hydropower plants can be idealy integrated in the landscape and, above all, ecological measures such as fish bypasses ensure the best possible protection of natural habitats.

Due to the numerous advantages of small-scale hydropower plants, the existing potential must be utilised and the extension of small-scale hydropower must be accelerated in line with ecological justifiability. Every kilowatt-hour of electricity through the renewable water power source replaces electricity produced by nuclear power or by caloric power plants and contributes to reaching the goals of climate protection and import independence.

Hydraulic energy – the engine of regional economy

The economy of Tirol benefits from the numerous advantages of hydropower. Not only does it secure the power supply of the local economy and population, it also guarantees high domestic value creation effects with positive consequences to regional employment (turbine construction, building construction, subconstruction work, etc.). If nothing else, a lot of small-scale hydropower plants are popular getaway attractions and therefore embody an important element for regional tourism.

Tirol‘s specialty: Dam power plants

Due to the topographical situation, dam power plants can be almost exclusively found in Tirol. The pipeline of these facilities show an extremely high base slope (up to 1,000 meters). Through the high pressure, electricity can be produced to a noteworthy extent, even with a little amount of water. A specialty is the dam small-scale hydropower plant Erl and Margarethenbach in the local authority area of Anras: it is the only power plant europe-wide, that possesses more than 1,000 meters of pressure value.

New: Consultancy subsidy in Tirol

In order to accelerate the revitalisation of small-scale hydropower plant, the federal county government has terminated a consultancy campaign for operators of small-scale hydropower plants.

The consultation is carried out in two levels:

First, a free-of-charge consultancy, based on a questionnaire, that must be completed by the applicant. If the result has a foreseeable revitalisation potential, then the applicant receives a voucher for an on-site inspection.

Through cashing the voucher, an independent team of experts will carry out the on-site inspection. The outcome will be compiled in a detailed consultancy report, which includes all possible revitalisation measures through modernisation, upgrade and extension of old station devices (control system, turbine, automation of the computer system, etc.) as well as ecological optimisation (for example fish ladders, adjustment to residual water quantity). Through the subsidy the costs to recipients of the aid are reduced to 15 percent (user charges). The consultancy does not include implementation planning.

Goals of the consultancy subsidy:

  • Revitalisation of outdated facilities
    • technical, hydrological and ecological optimisation
    • increase of regional value creation
    • sustainable utilisation of renewable energy
  • Increase of electricity production through small-scale hydropower plants
  • Consideration of the European WFWD
    • Achieving a good ecological condition of water bodies
    • Consideration of implementation measures in the water management plan

Subsidy requirements:

Basically all small-scale hydropower plants with a bottleneck capacity of up to 10 MW in Tirol. Completion of the aid application and submitting it to the settlement centre. The staff of Water Tirol will contact the operators within a week to schedule an appointment.

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Contact

DI Mag. Artur Egger

Landessprecher Tirol
Augasse 6,
6060 Hall in Tirol
Tel: 05223/ 5855 127
Fax:05223/ 5 77 31
a.egger@hall.ag