PV systems in open spaces
are needed to achieve climate targets

In order to achieve Austria’s climate target of only consuming electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, the use of photovoltaics needs to be expanded to as much as 11 TWh. Installing small-scale PV systems on roofs will only go a short way to achieving the targets set, which means that there is an urgent need to use open spaces to generate solar power. This approach makes it possible not only to generate clean electricity but also to protect the habitats of endangered flora and fauna, as demonstrated by our solar power plant in Liesing. Wien Energie will invest a further EUR 480 million in adding 600 MW of photovoltaic output by 2030, with the focus here being on installing further large-scale free-standing PV systems in harmony with nature.

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Background information

Despite the considerable potential available with buildings, there is also a need to use open spaces to generate solar power. PV systems should be installed first and foremost in spaces that cannot be better used in any other way. Examples of such spaces include traffic areas, landfills, commercial and industrial areas or conversion areas. PV systems can also be installed, as a secondary option, in green spaces, as well as on land used for farming and forestry, in an environmentally-friendly way, provided that there is no negative impact on production.

  • Protecting habitats and promoting biodiversity: Erecting PV systems help preserve green spaces over the long term and prevent habitats rich in flora and fauna from being destroyed. Indeed, installing systems on fallow land, converted land or former landfill sites actually enables such depleted areas to recover a certain measure of biodiversity.

  • The special case of agrophotovoltaics – boosting the efficiency of land usage. Protecting farmland underneath such agrophotovoltaic systems from hail, heat and dehydration improves yields by up to 60 percent during harvesting.

  • No surface or soil sealing: by not using foundations, 99 percent of the surface area remains unaffected when PV systems are installed.

  • Lower costs: It is considerably more cost-effective to build free-standing PV systems than it is to install them on roofs or façades. A 100 kWp system is around 30 to 40 percent cheaper per installed kWp than a 5 kWp system. This is because fixed costs (such as documentation) are often incurred no matter the size of the system and many costs can be reduced by obtaining better purchase prices for large-scale systems, making free-standing PV systems substantially more efficient both when it comes to procuring them and subsequent yields.

  • Easy to maintain: PV systems in open spaces are an obvious choice, not least because of the fact that they are cheaper and easier to maintain given their greater accessibility. It is possible to carry out any necessary work much faster and in a less complicated way in contrast to roof-mounted PV systems.

  • Optimum positioning yields a higher output: Given that greater consideration must be given to the local conditions and building-related limitations when installing roof-mounted PV systems, it is not possible to guarantee that such systems can be positioned in the optimum way. This is in contrast to free-standing systems, where particular attention is paid to positioning these in a way to maximise exposure to the sun and, by extension, the power output.

  • Making good use of converted land: Aside from the fact that PV systems on fallow land, converted land or former landfill sites promote biodiversity, it makes good economic sense to use low-yielding areas to generate electricity as optimally as possible.

Our demands

In view of the ambitious targets to expand the use of PV, there is a need to provide support for large-scale photovoltaic systems. This is something that should be enshrined in the Expansion of Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbaren Ausbau Gesetz, EAG). It is also important to define here which categories of land should be considered eligible for funding.

Funding for free-standing PV systems larger than 500 kWp should take the form of a variable market premium determined by means of competitive tendering procedures. Provision should also be made for expanding existing systems without losing access to grants.

  • Traffic and infrastructure-related spaces such as car parks, road and rail traffic installations, as well as other such peripheral areas
  • Landfill sites and the land on which waste treatment plants are located
  • Commercial and industrial areas
  • Military and converted areas such as former military airfields
  • Green areas together with agricultural and forestry land, provided that this enables the land to be used both for generating electricity and agricultural purposes
Vera Immitzer

“We need 15 GW of photovoltaics to achieve the goal of completely converting Austria’s electricity supply to renewable energies by 2030. To do this, we must make use of every option available to us, from roof-mounted systems and free-standing systems to exploiting agricultural land in two different ways at the same time. Carefully crafted incentives are needed in order to push ahead with the expansion work, along with a simplified set of framework conditions to make it possible to actually harness the available potential.”

Vera Immitzer, General Manager of Photovoltaic Austria Federal Association

Further information

Your contact person

Lisa Henhofer
Lisa Henhofer

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