Austria‚Äôs new government has promised a 1 million photovoltaic roofing program as part of its plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2040. The country pledged to source all its electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030.
The new Austrian federal government, formed by the conservative Austrian People‚Äôs Party (√ĖVP) in coalition with the ecologist Green Party and led by √ĖVP‚Äôs Sebastian Kurz, has appointed a new ‚Äėsuper ministry‚Äô for climate and environmental protection as well as energy and infrastructure.
The roof programme for solar electricity is already fixed in the Governmental Agreement between the Green Party and √ĖVP for 2020 to 2024.
‚ÄúPhotovoltaics in general and the 1 million roof programme in particular will add substantially to these goals in a world where mobility is to be switched to electric driving and also fossil heating systems have to be replaced speedily during the next decades,‚ÄĚ the new climate protection minister, Leonore Gewessler from the Greens, told Forbes.com.
‚ÄúThe two political parties have the necessary majority in the National Council as the first and decisive chamber of Parliament. And, as today’s inaugural discussions in Parliament have shown, this project has also political support by Neos (Liberal Party) and SP√Ė (Social Democrats), so there should be a comfortable majority in favour of the necessary legal and financial decisions.‚ÄĚ
Properties of any kind will be involved and a funding for photovoltaics on other buildings, such as car parking, will soon be added.
Gewessler added that, in the new Governmental Agreement, it has been possible to fix a 27 TWh additional energy production capacity from renewables until 2030. Out of these, 11 TWh are supposed to come from photovoltaics along a steady yearly path.
The decision is in line with the Solar4Buildings campaign, calling for solar to be installed on all new and renovated residential, commercial and industrial buildings in the EU. According to the association SolarPower Europe, more than 90% of European rooftops are currently unused. By fitting this space with solar, up to 7 million tonnes of CO2 can be saved each year and at least 680 TWh of renewable electricity produced.
Solar industry‚Äôs specialized media pv magazine Deutschland claims that the 1 million roof programme won‚Äôt be sufficient to meet the increasing demand for electricity and that important points, like the solar obligation, are still missing.
The Federal Association of Photovoltaic Austria (PVA), whose primary goal is to bring photovoltaics and electricity storage to market maturity, assumes that more power will be necessary. The managing director Vera Immitzer told pv magazine Deutschland that ‚Äúeven if the 1 million photovoltaic roof program represents a gratifying and substantial increase in the originally planned 100,000 roof program, it will still only be able to contribute about half to the actually required photovoltaic expansion‚ÄĚ.
At the moment only 1.4 TWh are provided from renewable sources, covering 2.5% of Austrian energy demand. Greenpeace Austria believes that the government‚Äôs move will demand massive investments into solar power. ‚ÄúTo stop the climate breakdown we must phase out fossil fuels and rebuild our economy solely on the basis of renewable energy,‚ÄĚ Jasmin Duregger, Climate and Energy campaigner at Greenpeace CEE in Austria, told Forbes.com.
‚ÄúThe new goal is ambitious and presents challenges. First and foremost it requires solid and extended renewable energy legislation that provides the funding required, enough land space and rooftops to build the panels, as well as the support of house owners.‚ÄĚ
The legislation also needs improvement. ‚ÄúProvided the government reaches the goal of 1 million solar roofs, it‚Äôs still not said that Austria will reach it‚Äôs 100% renewable power goal,‚ÄĚ Duregger added.
‚ÄúEnergy demand is still rising. Only an effective energy-efficiency law can guarantee that we not only cover rising energy demand with solar power, but also replace and phase out fossil fuels.‚ÄĚ