Companies break ground on Austrian small hydro plant construction

The Gratkorn small hydro-power groundbreaking ceremony (photo courtesy Energie Steiermark).

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 24 to mark the official start of construction at the 11 MW Gratkorn small Hydro plant on the Mur River, Styria Province of Austria.

VERBUND and Energie Steiermark are jointly investing around €80 million ($87.9 million) in the new hydroelectric power station, which will go into operation in the second half of 2024. The powerhouse will have two vertically-installed turbine-generator unit. The plant will produce approximately 54 million kWh green, CO2-free energy.

The project was initiated against the backdrop of ambitious climate goals and the current debate over fossil energy imports. It was all about expanding renewable electricity generation. Provincial Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer emphasized the great importance of renewable electricity generation in Styria. “The past few weeks have made it clear to us more than ever that we need to become less dependent on gas and invest in alternative energy sources,” he said. “That’s why I’m particularly proud that a new hydroelectric power plant will now be built in Styria.”

According to Energie Steiermark, hydroelectric power is the most important source of renewable energy in Styria. For almost 120 years, electricity was generated using the power of Mur River.

In the coming weeks, the structural diversion for the Mur River should be complete. This allows for a dry excavation pit during construction, which will start in the summer 2022.

The new hydroelectric power plant will not only provide flood protection for the north of Graz, but also a variety of ecological measures. A new, additional Mur bridge will be built for cyclists, pedestrians and recreational athletes in the area of ​​the power plant.

VERBUND is Europe’s largest producer of hydropower electricity. Nearly all of its electricity is generated from climate-friendly, renewable hydropower.

Energie Steiemark, which is majority owned by Styrian government, generates all its electricity from renewable sources, including water, wind and sun.