Region/Countries: Austria, Europe Industry: Water / Clean Technology Date: March 2023

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: As the European nation reshapes its energy systems and moves toward sustainability, market opportunities may arise for Wisconsin companies in those fields.

Austria is a leader in Europe’s drive toward clean energy.

Austria’s government has set a goal of supplying 100% of its electricity from renewable power sources by 2030. That would far surpass the provisional target set this month by the European Union to have between 42.5% and 45% of its electricity come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030, as reported by Reuters News Service.

As of 2021, the country already received 77% of its electricity from renewables—mostly wind and hydropower, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). A plan adopted in March 2021 allocated an annual $1.2 billion over the next 10 years for additional investment grants and subsidies for solar, wind, and biomass projects. That figure could top $35 billion if private investments are factored in, the ITA report said.

The law also offers incentives to private individuals to create “energy communities” as nonprofit associations or companies, separate from existing energy companies.  Municipalities or residents can pool their electricity production from photovoltaic installations, wind turbines, or small hydropower stations and sell it to other entities.

Austria also has several research projects on hydrogen as an energy source, with one of the world’s largest pilot plants on hydrogen electrolysis in Linz and a plant under construction in Villach for sustainable hydrogen that will make chip production climate neutral, according to the Austrian Business Agency.

Clean technology has been a priority in Austria for many years. Austria initiated a drive toward energy-efficient cities more than a decade ago, and it has created a Smart Cities Network that includes the capital of Vienna and at least six other cities. Coordinated by Austria’s government, the network’s goal is to support and accelerate innovative projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of Vienna’s projects are: building solar energy power plants expected to serve 250,000 households by 2030; a 10-year eco-friendly urban renewal program; electric and hydrogen-fueled city buses; a pilot project that turns sewage sludge and wood pulp residue into carbon dioxide-neutral fuels;and smart traffic lights.

As Austria steps up its efforts to go green, market opportunities may exist for Wisconsin companies involved in clean technology areas such as decentralized energy technology, data analytics, sludge processing, mobility, recycling, and heating and cooling.