“Times on the energy markets remain turbulent, even if there is good news in gas supply,” said Wolfgang Urbantschitsch on Tuesday in Linz. The board of directors of the regulatory authority E-Control took part in the meeting of the Upper Austrian Energy Control Advisory Board.
Austria’s gas storage facilities are currently 66 percent full – that’s 64 terawatt hours (TWh). A year ago, shortly after the outbreak of the Ukraine war, it was 50 TWh less. Urbantschitsch didn’t want to say that the supply for next winter is secure, but: “We have never been so well prepared.” The state with the gas reserve, the energy suppliers and companies that have stored gas have contributed to this, as Markus Achleitner said. In the next few months, it should be refilled to more than 90 percent.
The prices should not be as extremely high as in the previous year. Urbantschitsch reported that a relatively stable gas price of 40 to 60 euros per megawatt hour is expected on the futures markets (which is still more than before the crisis). A good half of the 66 percent gas storage capacity is intended for domestic consumption in Austria. According to E-Control, there is also some gas from gas traders that has not yet been determined, and access is also good here for Austria. Urbantschitsch expects that the lowest level at the end of the heating season will level off at around 55 TWh.
Urbantschitsch and Achleitner appealed to continue to be economical with energy consumption. In January 2023, 7.2 percent less electricity and 21.5 percent less gas were used in Austria than in the same month of the previous year.
According to Urbantschitsch, the electricity and gas prices, which have been falling again for some time, have not yet reached the end customer because the quantities bought by suppliers at high prices in the previous year are the decisive factor. But there are now cheap offers for new customers. So if you are currently looking, you should compare prices in the E-Control tariff calculator.
According to Urbantschitsch, consumer protection is more important than ever. Since the beginning of the year, around 9,200 consumers have turned to E-Control for help – a massive increase.
And very importantly: “A massive expansion of renewable energy sources can only succeed with the expansion of the power grid,” said Urbantschitsch. Achleitner presented the “Power Grid Master Plan 2032” for Upper Austria. 1.7 billion euros are to be invested by this year. Major projects are the 220 kV line in the central area, including the Hütte Süd substation (which is important for voestalpine projects), the 110 kV line from Rohrbach to Rainbach and the 380 kV line from St. Peter to the German border.
There are also numerous projects at the low-voltage level. The two network operators Netz OÖ and Linz Netz currently have 750 and 550 construction projects – from transformer to line renewals.
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