To mitigate the climate crisis ambitious emission reductions and respectively rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings) as well as industrial systems that are unprecedented in terms of scale are required. In the wide portfolio of mitigation options renewable energy sources will play a key role in delivering the aspired emission reductions, together with efficiency improvements and changes in lifestyles.
The Austrian government has stipulated a goal of 100% renewable electricity on a national balance in Austria by 2030, i.e. that renewable electricity generation covers or exceeds national electricity demand. As of 2020, RES-E held a share of 78% in total electricity generation in Austria. Bridging the gap to the 100% target over the next decade will nevertheless require fundamental changes in the Austrian electricity system entailing considerable investment.
In the "Start2030" project the economic and distributional effects of a transformation to an electricity system conforming with the 100% renewables target in Austria by 2030 were analysed. For this analysis, the macroeconomic model DYNK and the electricity system model ATLANTIS were expanded and linked. Four transformation scenarios in which the 100% RES-E target in Austria is achieved have been simulated, integrated into a consistent scenario for the development of the European electricity system. Although all scenarios achieve 100% RES-E on a national balance, the analysis shows that electricity from gas-fired power plants will still be needed in 2030 to balance variable renewable generation, to avoid grid congestion, and for heat generation from combined heat and power plants in winter months. From a socio-economic perspective, the transition towards a renewable electricity sector is almost neutral. It does neither reveal harmful impacts nor lead to high multiplier effects from additional investment. With high natural gas prices, a decrease in GDP and household income, which might motivate redistributive policies, can be observed.