Can Austria Survive Without Nuclear Power?
Otmar Promper, Helmuth Böck
Technische Universität Wien
Stadionallee 2, A-1020 Wien, Austria
One of the biggest challenges in the future
of the Austrian power sector is the reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions as Austria agreed in Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 13% compared to 1990 levels. Due to
increasing electricity demand, there is a need to build new power
in the future. Today, the use of nuclear power for electricity
production in Austria is prohibited by law. The aim of this paper
is to analyse the future of the Austrian power sector concerning
greenhouse gas emissions and guarantee of supply. Various scenarios
taking the above conditions and different technologies into account
are calculated. The investigated technologies include fossil
fuels, renewables and nuclear power. The aim is to analyse the
impact of the different scenarios on greenhouse gas emissions
and supply security.
Electricity demand, green house gas emissions,
CO2, nuclear energy, fossil fuels, supply security.
In the mid-sixties Austrian energy planning
proposed up to five NPPs by end of the 20th century in order
to fulfil the country’s electricity demand. The decision
in Austria to build the first nuclear power plant (a 723 MWe
by AEG/KWU) was taken in 1971 by the Gemeinschaftskernkraftwerk
Tullnerfeld GmbH, a state owned power company, The location
of the power station was Zwentendorf , 60 km northwest of Vienna,
on the river Danube. Construction started in 1972 and it was
scheduled to start operation in summer of 1976. After two years
of delay in construction the plant was nearly finished in 1978
and was scheduled to start operation in fall. Two years before,
in 1976, a very intensive public and political discussion about
using nuclear power for electricity production started. Based
on this discussion the Austrian government carried out a referendum
about using nuclear power. On November the 5th, 1978 the Austrian
voted with 50.47% against the use of nuclear power for electricity
production in Austria. Since this time the use of nuclear power
for electricity production in Austria has been prohibited by law.
Instead of the nuclear power plant two coal
fired plants were built. But in the last 25 years many energy
aspects changed and today there are totally new challenges in
the power sector.
Austria generates most of its
electrical energy from hydro power. In 2005 the share of hydro
was 57%. 33% were generated from thermal power, 6% from renewables
including all bio-energy sources like waste and clearing sludge,
0.2% from others and 4% was from net imports (Fig. 1).
Figure 1: Electricity production in Austria by source 2005
(source: own calculation, )
In the early 90s the share of hydro
power was nearly 70%. As a reason of this increasing electricity
demand, which has increased by more than 2% per year in
the last ten years (see fig. 2), the share of hydropower dropped
power increased up to 33%. Austria also changed from being a
net exporter of electricity to being a net importer since 2001.
Figure 2 shows also three projections of the
possible demand for electricity in the next twenty five years.
The projection reached from a low scenario with an increase of
only 1.5%, a reference scenario with an increase of 2% and a
high scenario with an increase of 2.5% per year .
Figure 2: Electricity demand in the past and projection in the
(source: own calculation, )
The potential of hydropower is already used by up to more than
70% and there is no possibility for a further increase in this
sector. To close the gap between production and demand which
will be up to 18,7 TWh in 2021 and 38,6 TWh in 2030, Austria
has three options left:
Thermal power with fossil fuels
Increasing electricity import
Renewable energy sources which are mainly favoured
by politicians and media are no option, as their potential in
Austria is so
small that no major electricity production can be expected except
in very local conditions. In adition to wind and solar energy
sources reliable back-up energy (either fossil, hydro or nuclear)
necessary to compensate for outage periods.
Increasing the thermal production raises two
problems for the power sector.
Austria has only few reserves of fossil fuels.
80% of natural gas and 100% of coal have to be imported.
Increasing thermal electricity production means increasing
green house gas emissions
Electricity imports increase strongly Austria’s
dependence from abroad. An additional technical problem
with the grid and
it simply transfers the green house gas emissions problem
Therefore, the only option is to use nuclear
power. Nuclear power can produce the required amount of electricity,
low green house gas emissions and the fuel amount for several
years can be easily stored on site.
The motivation for this paper and is
to analyse whether the prohibition of nuclear power for electricity
production in Austria is still
up to date with respect tp developments since the referendum
in 1978. Politicians should not only have their re-election in
following the opinion of the blue-press but they have also the
responsibility to ensure a secure and environmental friendly
energy policy in future. Therefore, they should initiate
in nuclear policy to meet the new challenges of the power sector
in the future.
To illustrate the impact of different options
for future electricity supply on CO2- emissions
and supply security of several scenarios were developed and
compared. In this case it is not necessary to calculate the absolute
values (of e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) exactly but just to
compare two different technologies. Therefore this method is
very appropriate for such scenario analyses.
The approach in the models is to build virtual
new power plants with different technologies and primary energy
sources over the period of consideration. The aim of each model
is to cover the electricity demand with a range of fluctuation
2.1 Analysed Scenarios
Three scenarios with at least 25 technologies
paths were analysed in this work. The period under consideration
reaches from 2005 up to 2030. The main scenarios differ in the
growing of electricity demand. The details of the analysed scenarios
are described below:
Scenario A0 (referenze scenario)/A1
Electricity demand is growing by 2% per year.
Higher utilization of large existing thermal plants then 2005
Utilization of large existing plants like 2005 in A1.
Eelectricity demand in growing by 1.5% per year.
Higher utilization of large existing thermal plants then
2005 in B0.
Utilization of existing plants like 2005 in B1.
Growing of electricity demand 1.5% per year.
Higher utilization of large existing thermal plants then
2005 in C0.
Shutting down all large existing thermal plants in 2015 before
the end of their lifetime.
C11, C12- two scenarios with a lower increase in electricity
demand of 1% and 0.5% per year.
2.2 Used Technologies
The technologies used in the models are listed
in Table 1. The primary energy sources in this table are the
only realistic ones
which can be used in Austria in the future.
The efficiency of each technology depends on
state-of-the-art at initial construction.
With these technologies the following power plant paths in
each scenario were created and analysed.
GTCC with natural gas
CCT plus hard coal (pulverized)
Nuclear power plus hard coal (pulverized)
GTCC plus Clean coal technology
All technologies, except nuclear power plants,
have the same utilization in the model of 6500h per year, while
plants have a higher utilization of 7500h per year because of
their special aptitude for base load.
2.3 Boundary Conditions
There are some boundary conditions for
the scenario calculations which are valid for all models.
The production of hydropower is constant with 40 TWh per year
over the period under consideration.
Renewable energy sources will increase
to a share of 10% of electricity production by 2015.
From 2015 to 2030
the share of renewables will stay constant between 10% and 12%
of total production. Actually this is a very optimistic value
All large (PN > 100MWel) thermal plants will be shut down
after a lifetime of 35 years .
Considered are only power plants to satisfy the demand without
any reserve capacity and given utilization.
All assumptions are conservative. This means e.g. minimal
number of power plants, no reserves, best efficiency.
48%, 50%, 52%
Table 1: Used technologies for new power plants in the models
As it is not possible to show the results of all scenarios
and power plant paths within this paper only the most important
mainly the nuclear scenarios, are presented here.
3.1 Evolution of the electricity production
Figure 3 shows the results of
the power generation mix up to 2030 in the nuclear scenario A02
by fuel. The demand including
electricity for pump storage will rise from 57584GWh in 2005
up to 92620GWh in 2030. In this scenario there two GTCC plants
are considered, which are actually already under construction
and operational in 2008 and 2009. In 2018 the first nuclear
plant with 1200MWel will start operation and in 2030 three
nuclear power plants with at least 3600MWel will be in operation.
Figure 3: Nuclear scenario A03, increase of demand by 2% per
year (source: own calculation)
The share of nuclear power in electricity production will be
12% in 2020 and 29% in 2030. Hydropower has a share in 2030 of
38%, renewables 11%, existing thermal plants 8%, new GTCC 9%
and import 5%.
Figure 4 shows the same picture as in the scenario
A03. The main difference is the increasing electricity demand,
which is only 1.5% in B03. It starts also from 57584GWh in 2005
and reaches 82316GWh in 2030. As a reason of the lower demand
the first nuclear power plant with 1200 MWel start operation
not before 2019. In 2030 there are at least two nuclear power
plants in operation with together 2400 MWel. The share in electricity
production of nuclear power in 2030 will be 21%, hydropower 43%,
renewables 11%, existing thermal plants 9%, 10% new GTCC and
Compared to the two nuclear scenarios
Figure 5 shows the generation mix of the GTCC scenario A01 with
an increase of demand of 2% per year.
Figure 4: Nuclear scenario B03, increasing of demand
1.5% per year
(source: own calculation)
Figure 5: Natural gas scenario A01, increasing of demand 2% per
(source: own calculation)
In this scenario all new built power plants
use GTCC technology. The generation mix in 2030 consists
of 39% new GTCC, 38% hydro, 11% renewable, 8% existing thermal
and 4% import. A big share (47%) of Austria’s electricity
production in 2030 will depend on natural gas because all existing
thermal plants at this time use also natural gas as a fuel.
In conclusion it can be stated,
that Austria’s electricity
production in the future will depend more and more on thermal
production either with fossil or nuclear fuels. The share of
hydropower will decrease in all scenarios from now 57% to below
45%. Even if the increase in demand is reduced down to 1%
or even 0.5% the share of hydropower will be 45%
until 50% respectively.
New power plant capacity will be required with at least 2400
MWel or even up to 4600 MWel depending on the selected scenario.
These are minimum values because of the assumed high utilization
factor of new plants in the calculations. Considering reserve
capacity and lower utilization the values of the required new
capacity will be much higher.
3.2 Evolution of the fuel demand
Increasing the production of thermal plants with
fossil fuels, means also an increase in fuel demand. As mentioned
before Austria has very little reserves on fossil fuels. Only 19.7%
of the demand of natural gas is produced in Austria. Most of the
natural gas in Austria comes from Russia (58.6%), Germany (12.6%)
and from Norway (9.1%) . Also the total demand of hard coal
has to be imported, mainly from Poland and Czech Republic (88%).
Austria also has no reserves of lignite leel. Moreover, lignite
has a very low calorific value and high specific CO2-emission.
These are the reasons why lignite has not been taken into account
for thermal plants in Austria.
Figure 6 shows the evolution of the natural gas
consumption in the reference scenario A0. The values are based
on 2005. In the GTCC scenario A01 the increase is as expected very
strong. It will nearly triple from 3.6 Gm3 to 9.66 Gm3 per
year until 2030. In the scenarios A02 with hard coal and A05 with
coal technologies, where also GTCC technology is used, the increase
is not so strong. In A02 the consumption will nearly double to
6.6 Gm3 and in A05 to 6.27 Gm3. In the nuclear
scenarios A03 and A04 the consumption of natural gas will shortly
2011 and then drop back to the values of 2005 until 2030.
Figure 6: Evolution of the natural gas consumption in Austria up
to 2030 (source: own calculation)
Figure 7: Evolution of the hard coal consumption in Austria up to
2030 (source: own calculation)
In Figure 7 the consumption of (hard coal) in the reference scenario
A0 is shown. As expected the increase of consumption in the coal
scenarios A02 and A05 will be the strongest.
In A05 with clean coal technology the consumption
will nearly quadruple, from 1.65 Mt to 6.2 Mt per year in 2030.
In A02 it will increase up to 5 Mt in 2030. In the nuclear scenario
A03 and in the GTCC scenario A01 the consumption will drop to zero
after shutting down the existing plants fired with hard coal in
2021. In the scenario A04 with nuclear power and one new hard coal
fired plant the consumption will drop down to 80% of 2005.
The consumption of fossil fuels in the other scenarios
(B,C) is equal or slightly lower. It is obvious that more thermal
plants (whether natural gas or hard coal fired) will increase the
dependence in primary energy supply significantly in the future.
The mass flow rates of fossil fuels in the future will, therefore,
be very high. This has a negative effect on the security of supply
in Austria’s power sector.
For nuclear power plants the consumption is
only a few hundred tons of natural uranium per year. Uranium is
also a wide spread all over the world and in stable political regions.
Thus uranium has two advantages compared to natural gas and hard
coal in Austria:
3.3 Evolution of Green house gas emissions
Another important point is the evolution of the
green house gas emissions in Austria’s power sector. Austria
signed the Kyoto Protocol and committe to reducing green house
gas emissions (mainly CO2-emissions)
to 13% based on 1990 level. The base for the CO2-emissions
in 1990 of the power sector is 10.89 Mt and Austria’s commitment
is to reduce these emissions to 9.47 Mt until 2012. The share of
the power sector of the totally CO2-emissions in Austria
Figure 8 shows the evolution of the CO2-emissions
in the reference scenario A0. The magenta line is the base of 1990
and the green line the aim of the reduction (9.47Mt). The strongest
increase is in the hard coal scenario A02. The emissions in this
scenario will more then double from 11.3 Mt in 2005 to 23 Mt in
2030. There is also a strong increase in the GTCC scenario A01.
The CO2-emissions in this scenario will increase up
to 16.2 Mt in 2030. In the clean coal and nuclear coal scenarios
A05 and A04
the emissions will increase until 2021 by up to 13.15 Mt. After
shutting down the existing coal fired thermal plants the CO2-emissions
will drop down to the level of 1990. Only in the nuclear scenario
will the emissions drop down below the level of the Kyoto target.
The emissions in this scenario are 6.1 Mt in 2030.
Figure 8: Evolution of the CO2-emissions in Austria
up to 2030
(source: own calculation)
The other scenarios show similar values of
CO2-emissions. In the scenario B with lower increase
in demand the CO2-emissions are also lower, but nevertheless
they are above the base of 1990 and the Kyoto target (except nuclear
Concluding this section, the CO2-emissions in the power
sector will increase in all scenarios except in the nuclear and
In summary, the analysis has shown that there
is a great requirement for new power plant capacity in the future
in Austria, to satisfy increasing electricity demand. Another
result of the analysis is that the future of the Austrian power
sector leads either to thermal production or to increased imports.
Hydropower and renewables have very little potential to satisfy
future electricity demand. Direct import of electricity leads
straight to dependence on foreign imports for electricity
supply, because there is no possibility to store electricity in
Concerning the thermal production,
the only two options are fossil fuels or nuclear power. As shown
above nuclear power can fulfil
all the requirements to satisfy the future electricity demand
both in view of security of supply and reduction of CO2-emissions.
The need for fossil fuels like
natural gas or hard coal will increase in all scenarios (except
and, therefore, primary
energy imports will too. It is difficult and expensive to store
natural gas in
big quantities. So the excessive increase in gas consumption
will also lead in strong dependence of foreign countries and
negative effects on guarantee of supply. Concerning CO2-emissions
the nuclear scenarios are the only one which can fulfil the
Kyoto aims of Austria. In all fossil scenarios the CO2-emissions
more than double according to the Kyoto aims. There is only
one non nuclear scenario which can reach the Kyoto aims if
of electricity demand is reduced to about 0.5% per year.
If Austria wants to continue to
act as a model state of clean environment in Central Europe it
should reverse its anti-nuclear
meet the future challenges in the power sector.
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