Upper Austria using biomass to help reach 2030 energy target

By Chris Hanson | April 26, 2013


Christiane Egger, Deputy Manager of the Upper Austrian Renewable Energy Agency, described how the region will utilize renewable resources to meet 100 percent of heat and energy needs by 2030 at the 2nd Annual Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference in Carlton, Minn., on April 25.

Egger said energy efficiency has been one of the major priorities for Upper Austria since the 1990s. Currently renewable energy sources generate 34 percent of the region’s total energy demand. With about 35,000 heating installations and 280 district heating projects, biomass-derived power makes up 44 percent of that margin and will play a role in meeting the region’s goal.  

The decision to move to 100 percent renewable fuel was based on numerous factors, Egger said. The major reasons for the movement are to protect the climate, avoid increasing fossil fuel prices, reduce dependency from unstable geopolitical entities and to foster innovation and employment.

Egger credited pellet fuel standardization for Austria’s early renewable fuel growth. Highly standardized fuels allowed for high efficiency and low emission technologies to be developed and optimized. Furthermore, Egger said some boiler manufacturers have a warranty program only if standardized pellets are used.

Egger added that raising awareness about biomass projects was also beneficial in the growth of the industry.  This was echoed from Adam Sherman, a consultant from the Biomass Energy Resource Center who also presented at the conference. Sherman said recognition programs are often the most overlooked strategies for promoting best practices and projects within the industry.

The 2nd Annual Heating the Midwest Conference and Expo was organized by the Wood Materials and Manufacturing Program at the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth.