Austria records decrease in electricity imports in December 2022, despite all-time highs in imports and consumption due to challenges with renewable energy and grid infrastructure.

Austria Records Decrease in Electricity Imports

Austrian Power Grid (APG) reported an increase in electricity consumption in December 2022, compared to the previous month. However, compared to the past five years, the trend is still towards saving electricity, according to the electricity network operator. In a broadcast on Monday, APG announced that Austria imported 1,539 gigawatt hours of electricity last December, which is 1.8 percent less than the amount imported in December 2021.

APG cited several factors for the record values reached on December 21, with imports hitting an all-time high of 100.5 GWh, and on December 22, an all-time high of 5551.6 megawatts in imports within 15 minutes. Low production from renewable energies was the primary cause.

Despite the increase in electricity consumption in December, there was still a recognizable tendency to save electricity compared to the comparable months of 2017-2021. Consumption fell by three percent in these months, while the saving in the fourth quarter compared to the past five years was five percent. Renewable energies, particularly hydropower, covered 54 percent of domestic electricity consumption in December 2022.

The rise in demand for electricity, coupled with the increased integration of renewable energy sources, has caused significant challenges for the existing grid infrastructure. APG employs so-called redispatch measures to compensate for bottlenecks, which involves targeted interventions in the use of thermal and hydraulic power plants, such as gas or hydroelectric power plants.

In December 2022, these interventions were necessary on 18 days, resulting in costs that electricity customers would have to pay. In 2022, at least 94 million euros were required for this purpose. APG’s CFO, Thomas Karall, emphasized that “A high-performance power grid with sufficient capacity would significantly reduce the intervention in power plant operation and reduce costs. The immediate expansion of the grid infrastructure therefore has top priority.”

As the world continues to transition towards more sustainable energy solutions, countries face significant challenges in maintaining the necessary grid infrastructure to support renewable energy sources. For Austria, APG’s efforts to increase the country’s energy independence by expanding the grid infrastructure is critical in ensuring the successful integration of renewable energy sources and reducing costs for electricity customers.