Electricity generation

Run-of-river and storage power plants

As regards hydroelectric power plants, a distinction can be made between run-of-river power plants and storage power plants. While run-of-river power plants are essentially necessary to meet the base electricity demand, storage power plants flexibly cover the ever-changing demand for electricity.

Hydropower is the most efficient and cost-effective way to generate electricity. Hydroelectric power plants reliably supply Austria with natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly energy and, together with the thermal power plants, form the backbone of Austria's electricity supply.

Run-of-river power plants: Base electricity from renewable energy

Electricity from hydropower is generated in Austria in run-of-river power plants and storage power plants. Run-of-river power plants generate electricity around the clock; they are responsible for the basic supply of electricity. Small hydropower plants are small-scale power plants. Compared to larger hydropower plants, the electricity generation per unit is often lower, but they are also environmentally friendly and reliable.

Storage power plants: Natural energy – can be used flexibly

Storage power plants allow electrical energy to be stored. Due to their flexible nature, they can be used in situations where electricity needs to be quickly fed into the grid for domestic power supply, for instance if due to a lack of wind no power is being generated by the wind turbines.

If necessary, the stored energy in the reservoirs is converted into electricity. In times of surplus of electrical energy, e.g. at night when run-of-river and wind power stations generate more electricity than is consumed, pumped storage power plants – a special form of storage power plants – are used: in this type of power plant, water is pumped back from storage tanks to the higher reservoir. If necessary, the accumulated water is then re-used and generates valuable peak current again by driving turbines.

With a hydropower share of about two-thirds of its domestic electricity mix, Austria is a European pioneer in this environmentally and climate-friendly form of energy production.