>@Vorarlberger Illwerke AG
© Vorarlberger Illwerke AG

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting the development of hydropower in Austria’s Vorarlberg region. The federal state-owned energy supply company Illwerke AG is receiving a EUR 280 million loan for the Obervermuntwerk II pumped storage power plant. The two parties signed the contract in Bregenz today.

The project is designed to reduce network losses, add balancing capacity to the network and provide additional regulating energy. EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer, who is responsible among other things for the Bank’s financing operations in Austria, stressed the project’s importance: “Europe is dependent on a secure, efficient and flexible power supply. And the EIB sees this as one of the core goals of its financing”. The growing diversification of energy sources, especially renewable energy, also poses new challenges for power plants. Capacity must be increased, supply must be balanced. “Obervermuntwerk II will play a key role in generating environmentally friendly power – and not only for the Federal State of Vorarlberg. It will also make an important contribution to ensuring the stability and reliability of the whole European power grid”, added Mr Molterer.

“We are pleased to have found a competent and reliable financing partner for our projects in the European Investment Bank”, said Vorarlberger Illwerke AG board member Dr Christof Germann.

As well as Obervermuntwerk II, today’s loan will also finance construction of the smaller 13 MW Rellswerk plant and reinforcement of the Bürs substation. Completion is scheduled for 2018.

Obervermuntwerk II will utilise the head between two reservoirs – the Silvretta (altitude of around 2000 metres) and the Vermunt (around 300 metres lower) – to rapidly deliver peak and regulating energy to the public power grid when necessary. When surplus energy in the network endangers the security of supply, water will be pumped back up to the Silvretta reservoir. This will make it possible to react quickly to demand peaks and imbalances, which arise not only in consumption but also in power generation from renewables (e.g. wind and solar), as well as to provide additional network services for the European grid.

The EIB focuses its financing on projects promoting climate action and securing the energy supply. In 2013 alone, its loans for climate action ran to EUR 19 billion, with the development of renewables playing a key role. Last year the Bank provided loans worth around EUR 6.4 billion for that purpose and around EUR 5 billion for ensuring a secure and competitive energy supply.