Updated December 2022
Austria is perhaps one of the furthest along in the process of transposing EU rules on energy communities in a way that effectively operationalises the concept. Also, it has put in place detailed rules and regulations to enable energy sharing. Even if these rules are not perfect, and administrative burdens are still rather complicated, they at least allow the activity, provide some incentives to participants (reduction in grid fees related to the part of the grid that is used, as well as feed-in premiums for up to 50% of excess production fed into the grid), and are evolving to become more user-friendly. The government has also established an Austrian Coordination Office for Energy Communities, which serves as an online one-stop-shop for energy communities, and as a tool to help coordinate other governmental institutions in implementing an enabling environment for energy communities across different levels. The activity of energy sharing may be undertaken without having to obtain a supply license.
Overall, Austria has taken a very serious approach to transposing provisions on RECs and CECs. While the framework is not perfect, and lessons are still being learned on the operation of energy sharing, the framework itself has resulted in the creation of many energy communities.
Assessment of obstacles and potential for development of ECs
An evaluation for both RECs and CECs must show:
- status and development;
- Identification of unjustified barriers or limitations to further development;
- Suggestions for improvement and need for adjustment, in particular with regard to the practicability of the legal requirements for financial gain in accordance.
It is not clear whether this assessment been undertaken yet.
Removal of unjustified regulatory & administrative barriers
The Austrian Coordination Office for Energy Communities has the responsibility of making administrative procedures more efficient, faster and transparent. The implementation of energy communities should proceed in a unified manner at national
level, and all relevant stakeholders shall pull together to create a real enabling environment.
DSO duties around cooperation with ECs and facilitation of energy sharing
Network users have a legal right vis-à-vis network operators to participate in an energy community (REC or CEC). Among the duties that are allocated to the DSO within the scope of this obligation are:
- The duty to respond to requests for applications of access to the grid within 2 weeks
- The duty to install a smart meter upon request within 2 months;
- To enter into a contract with the energy community;
- Measure consumption of members in an energy community, a well as feed-in/purchase from production installations;
- Make available quarter-hourly data to suppliers and the energy community (including its members) on the following day;
- Data must be available free of charge and on-line
Allocate shares (either dynamic or static) of generation between members
Fair, proportionate, and transparent registration & licensing procedures
Energy communities must notify the DSO of the community’s establishment. The establishment of a legal entity that meets the requisite criteria is also a prerequisite for the registration of the energy community with the grid operator.
The legal framework for electricity suppliers (EIWOG 2010)5 is not applicable for the internal relationship of the community (i.e. production that is shared within the energy community). However, if the community provides other energy services, the community must respect rights and obligations (e.g. supplier)
In 2022, the NRA published a comprehensive guideline on obtaining a grid connection for production installations.
Obtaining approvals for production installations differs by region. the Carinthia Electricity Management and Organisation Act provides for a simplified procedure for power generation plants intended solely for emergency power supply or with a
peak load capacity of up to 500 kWp.
Incentives connected to network tariffs based on a CBA
Quantities generated and consumed within a REC are not taken into account when determining the renewable levy to be paid by the consumer on electricity, as well as gas. Nevertheless, this levy has been suspended for all consumers with the current energy crisis.
The regulatory authority must publish a CBA by the end of the first quarter of 2024. The NRA must then make a determination whether RECs and CECs are contributing fairly to system costs.
Non-discriminatory treatment as market participant
Yes, but this is not elaborated.
Accessibility to low-income & vulnerable households
Not addressed in the transposition.
Tools to access finance
The Austrian government will provide up to four Million Euro to support the establishment of energy communities. According to EAG, Installations owned by REC are eligible to apply for investment grants for the production of RES electricity and gas.
CEC are eligible for support schemes, namely investment grants for the construction, revitalization and expansion of plants (PV, storage, hydropower, wind turbines and biomass. One-off investment subsidies will be granted for the construction and expansion of photovoltaic plants and electricity storage facilities, as well as for the construction of new wind power plants up to 1 MW, depending on the respective ranking and the available subsidies. One-off investment grants are one-time grants for PV and electricity storage systems (up to 1,000 kWp and minimum 0.5 kWh/kWp, respectively).
Tools to access information
Austria has also established a Coordination Office for Energy Communities in Summer 2021. Together with the public advisory institutions in the federal states, the Coordination Office provides an online one-stop shop aiming to ensue ensures that ECs can be easily set up and operated and be active in energy markets. it also has the responsibility of making administrative procedures more efficient, faster and transparent. On this latter point, it has a role of coordinator vis-à-vis the Ministry of Climate (BMK), regulatory authority (E-Control) and regional governments (”Bundesländer“). It contains guidelines for start-ups, financing, and pilot projects, a help desk to answer questions, legal information, and a link to experts. It also provides general information on what energy communities are, their benefits, a national map, as well as information on model contract and statutes that must be entered into set up an energy community and enter into relevant agreements.
Regulatory capacity building for public authorities
Austria has set up the programme E5 supporting local authorities to engage in the energy transition, including through energy communities. The Coordination Office also contains a number of guidance materials to help municipalities.
NECP reporting on enabling frameworks
Not addressed in the transposition. Member States are required via the Governance Regulation (2018/1999) to report on their enabling frameworks for RECs by 15 March 2023.
Support Scheme adapted for RECs
RECs taken into account when designing eligibility/participation requirements
Austria is transitioning towards tendering procedures. From 2023, operators will have to apply for the market premium solely in competitive tendering procedure. However, the competitive approach will only apply to a limited extent to wind power plants under 20 MW and those operated by energy communities.
The EAG requires the Ministry of Energy to evaluate support schemes for renewable energy production by December 2024.
Support for excess self-production fed into the grid
For CECs and RECs who engage in energy sharing, a maximum of 50% of the renewable electricity generated and not consumed within an CEC can be supported by means of a market premium. The calculation of the market premium is based on the amount of electricity sold by a CEC and fed into the public grid. Some stakeholders have claimed that limiting the incentive to 50% is unfair, and may limit the development and growth into larger energy communities (e.g. in wind).