The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund has increased the budget of its grant scheme for large solar thermal plants and is now offering EUR 45 million in 2021 and 2022 for conducting feasibility studies, putting up new systems as well as monitoring them. If the budget is exhausted, the government will have spent more money on this submarket in two years than in the last 10 combined. For example, in 2020, the budget allocated for large solar fields was just EUR 2.5 million. For the first time since the launch of the programme in 2011, there is also no upper limit on the size of installations or on the amount of funding that applicants can receive.

“The programme has finally created the right conditions for companies to invest in multi-megawatt district heating systems, offering us a faster exit from fossil fuels,” Robert Kanduth, President of Austria Solar, was quoted as saying in a press release from the beginning of May. The scheme’s EUR 45 million budget is expected to lead to total investments of about EUR 150 million.

According to Austria Solar’s Managing Director Roger Hackstock, the newest iteration of the scheme

  • comes with a EUR 45 million budget, to be spent on large solar thermal systems
  • focuses on both solar district heating and industrial solar heat
  • is open for applications until 24 February 2023
  • covers up to 50 % of the investment in systems not exceeding 2,000 m2
  • covers up to 30 % of the investment in systems larger than 2,000 m2 (+ 5 % for storage)
  • allows applicants to submit funding requests for projects of any size
  • funds 100 % (or up to EUR 100,000) of the cost of feasibility studies for solar heat plants that have a collector area above 5,000 m2
  • does not put a limit on the amount of funding per project

“The financial support for feasibility studies was really popular last year, when it was first added to the scheme,” said Hackstock. In all, 18 of these applications, totalling 300,000 m2 of collector area, were submitted to the fund in 2020. Although not every request for funding was approved, the high interest in the scheme shows the potential that projects going into the megawatts have in Austria, he said.

Hackstock added that he was pleased to see the government extending the application period to nearly two years, as it takes a great deal of time to plan the installation of large systems made up of several thousand collectors. During the 10 years prior to 2021, the government had decided annually on whether to continue the programme, while the submission period for applications was only several months a year.

The funding guidelines of the scheme can be downloaded by clicking the link at the end of this article (available in German only). If you have further questions about the programme, please contact Roger Hackstock (roger.hackstock@austriasolar.at), Managing Director of Austria Solar, Austria’s national solar industry association.

Source: Solarthermalworld.com