Austria Goes Back to Coal Power

PeopleOther ♦ Published: June 20, 2022; 18:35 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Mellach heating power plant in Styria, which is currently shut down, is to be converted so that electricity and heat can be generated there again from coal in an emergency. This was confirmed by Austria's Chancellor Nehammer.

The Mellach power plant (Mellach district heating power plant on the left, gas-and-steam combined-cycle power plant on the right) in 2019. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons /TM 04 04, CC BY-SA 4.0

Russia reduces gas supplies and intentionally creates an energy shortage. The Austrian Government met on the issue of energy shortage and discussed possible solutions.

For the Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer, the main issue is "to replace the reduction of Russian gas with other sources or suppliers to continue to build up a stock."

The Austrian head of government referred to the agreement between the government and VERBUND, Austria's largest electricity utility. This agreement aims to convert the Mellach district heating power plant, which is currently shut down so that it can produce electricity from coal in an emergency. According to the chancellor, the necessary preparations are currently being made.

The Mellach heating power plant south of Graz was Austria's last coal-fired power plant. In spring 2020, it generated electricity from coal for the last time.

According to ORF, Verbund will be able to restart the power plant in a few months. Only the coaling and other technology must be overhauled. A major problem could be the personnel. Verbund is trying to "restart the transfer of know-how" and reactivate former staff.

This is only the first of the measures to secure the energy supply. The chancellor assured at the meeting that the government of Austria is doing everything to secure the energy supply of the country and represents the "ultimate goal".

The chancellor also said reassuring words to the population. According to Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Austria has "an extremely high storage capacity in international comparison." According to the chancellor, Austria can store an entire year's consumption in storage facilities.

It was noted in the meeting that Austria currently has around 39 percent of its annual consumption stored in gas storage facilities, which puts it in second place within the EU.

Also, other branches of government assured their work on ensuring the energy supply for the coming years. The meeting was also attended by Minister of Economy Martin Kocher, Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler and experts from the respective ministries.

Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler noted that diversification in gas supplies was being pursued "to make Austria less dependent on Russian gas, step by step."

Federal Chancellery of Austria