Two ministries – one strategy: The minister for the economy, Reinhold Mitterlehner, and the minister for the environment, Niki Berlakovich, introduced Austria’s new incentive measures for solar thermal in April 2009.
This April, Austria’s government launched the ‘Konjunktur Paket II für thermische Sanierung’ (2nd Economic Stimulus Package for energy efficient renovation), aimed at households, multi-family houses and commercial premises. The ministries of economic and environment agreed upon a budget of EUR 100 million for thermal renovation measures.
Implementing these measures is thought to create more than 7,000 jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by 5.3 million tones, according to Reinhold Mitterlehner from the Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth. The fund will also provide the grounds for more than EUR 650 million of additional investments.
Private households can receive up to EUR 2,500 for the installation of a solar thermal system and commercial premises up to 40 % of their investment costs. There are several common criterions for all of these cases: any building, which wants to receive an incentive for their energy efficient renovation must be more than ten years old. And, in order to receive an incentive, one must apply on or before the 31 December 2010. Furthermore, solar thermal systems eligible for the subsidies must be installed in combination with thermal insulation measures.
Each of the nine Austrian regions possesses a different incentive system for solar thermal applications. The second stimulus package, however, applies to all 9 regions in a similar manner. Its requirements are: A collector system size of at least 20 m² for private households and a heating demand below 75 kWh/m2 and year. Additionally the stimulus package allows the deduction from the income tax of max EUR 2,920 per household which is installing a solar water heater.
Small businesses have to meet the same criteria as private households. They will receive a rebate of up to 40% of their investment costs if they install different renewable energy applications, such as solar water heaters, solar cooling systems or heat pumps.
“The solar thermal incentive of the above-mentioned, second stimulus package is an important step in the right direction,” Robert Kanduth, the chairman of the Austrian solar thermal association, Austria Solar, as well as the managing director of the Austrian collector manufacturer Greenonetec, stated in a press release from 30 March 2009. In order to reach the 34% target share in renewable energy by 2020, as was stated in the EU climate obligation for Austria, the government must take a more aggressive approach to support solar thermal technology. “With targeted incentives, enhanced research and training programmes for skilled workers, solar thermal technology can provide up to 40% of the renewable energy share in 2020,” said Kanduth.
The launch of the “Konjunktur Paket II für thermische Sanierung” caused a great deal of concern among Austria’s politicians. The parties Die Grünen and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) on the one side raised concerns that the budget spent on this project was misallocated and too small to be effective; precious time was wasted on the implementation of it. To the opposite side one could count the big players in the building industry, as well as the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), voicing their own concern and questioning the budget spent on this project in such troubled economic times.
Overview of incentive programmes for residential home owners (in German)
Overview of incentive programmes for collective systems ( in German)
Overview of incentive programme for hotels and guest houses (in German):
The text was written by communication expert Hanna Schober based in South Africa. Schober@solrico.com