Project Description

Landmark of Vienna

The Spittelau waste incineration plant processes around 250,000 tonnes of household waste every year. It makes a key contribution to Vienna’s waste management system and produces an average of 60 GWh of electricity and 500 GWh of heating. Around 50 percent of the energy produced every year from waste incineration stems from biogenic or renewable sources. The environmentally-friendly heating produced at Spittelau is enough to heat more than 60,000 households in Vienna in a year. 50,000 households can be supplied with electricity every year.

0 t
0 GWh
0 GWh

A picture says more than 1,000 words

See for yourself how our Spittelau waste incineration plant works.

Project details

In Austria it is forbidden to simply dump untreated waste. Thermal waste treatment plays an important role today. Pollutants are destroyed with a high degree of efficiency and the volume to be dumped is lowered. The combustion process is monitored and advanced flue-gas cleaning technology prevents any harm from being done to the environment. Wien Energie is 90 percent below the legal thresholds set for waste incineration plants on a yearly average. This is one of the best performances anywhere in the world.

The waste brought to the plant is first weighed by a platform scale and stored in a waste hopper approximately 7,000 m3 large. A gripper arm takes the refuse to the two waste furnaces. This is where the waste is incinerated. The hot flue gases which are produced are passed through a heat exchanger, creating steam. In the next step, this is used to produce both district heating and electricity. In order to clean the flue gases produced during incineration, Spittelau has a number of state-of-the-art systems. The purified flue gas is released from the chimney at a height of 126 metres.

In addition to the energy generated, 6,000 tonnes of scrap iron and 60,000 tonnes of clinker, ash and filter cake are produced annually.

The Spittelau plant was built between 1969 and 1971; in 1987 a fire destroyed major sections of the waste incineration plant. Instead of tearing down the plant, it was rebuilt on the same site. One reason for this was that Spittelau already housed everything needed to produce district heating. Another reason was that the waste should continue to be incinerated exactly where it was being generated: in the middle of the city.

The mayor of Vienna at that time, Helmut Zilk, wanted even more though: the new Spittelau should be especially clean and set new standards in protecting the environment. In addition, the new Spittelau should be a work of art. The environmentalist, nature lover and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser was tasked with designing the new plant. The building was completed in 1992. Its colourful façade, the golden ball on the chimney, roof greenery and planted trees have made the new Spittelau unmistakable and a Viennese landmark on a par with St Stephen’s cathedral and the Riesenrad Ferris wheel.

After having been in service for over 40 years, the Spittelau waste incineration plant underwent a process of general renovation between 2012 and 2015. By optimising the plant’s energy efficiency, it was possible to produce heating and electricity in an even more efficiency way. In the course of the modernisation work, the refuse-fired boilers were upgraded, the denox facility (catalytic converter for nitrous oxide) exchanged and all old electrostatic filters replaced by fabric filters, thereby further improving emission levels. In addition to this, a new converter substation was installed to produce district heating, the old turbine replaced by a new one and a generator, a new ash removal system fitted and a new upstream water container installed together with a new water vapour system.

Further reading

You might also be interested in these topics.


Sewage sludge drying

Wien Energie has developed an innovative process for the digestion, dehydration, drying and incineration of sewage sludge to produce environmentally-friendly district heating. 40,000 tonnes CO2 can thus be saved every year. An additional, environmentally-friendly advantage of the process is that phosphorus can be recovered.


The Vienna Model

The model combines the use of waste heat from power generation (cogeneration), the generation of energy from waste, the utilisation of industrial heat and the use of renewable energy sources. This saves three million tonnes of CO2 every year.