Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) sees the energy companies as an obligation to phase out Russian gas by 2027. “My next step is to get the energy suppliers to the table,” Gewessler said Thursday. Utilities should “contribute” and present their exit plans. That is not possible if it becomes difficult for politicians to take the risk.
On Wednesday, the EU commission criticized Austria for not having a “clearly defined short-term plan” for full decoupling of Russian gas imports. Although Austria has been able to reduce its dependence, it is still well above the EU average. Gewessler dismissed the criticism, pointing out that the share of gas imports from Russia fell from 80 to 50 percent between March 2022 and December 2022. In March 2023, however, 79 percent of gas imports came from Russia again. According to the energy minister, the stock fluctuates “quite strongly every month”. “We’re not there yet, we’re not over the hill yet.”
Plans not yet coordinated with ÖVP
Gewessler had a concept for the exit from Russian gas developed by ex-OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss and former E-Control boss Walter Boltze and presented it at the end of April. The minister wants to make energy suppliers more responsible for the storage of non-Russian gas and to transfer parts of OMV’s gas activities to the state holding company ÖBAG. In addition, Austria must secure gas volumes from OMV in Norway and Romania, including transport capacity. However, this has not yet been coordinated within the government.
“Austria is not completely closed”
The question about Russian gas came up at a press conference on Thursday, where Gewessler presented a campaign to thermally renovate buildings. Slogan of the new advertising offensive: “Austria is not completely closed”. The aim of the campaign was to inform the population about the possibilities of renovation and to triple funding for thermal renovation, the minister said. Half a million houses in Austria are not sufficiently insulated. Renovation makes an important contribution to climate protection, as energy consumption for heating is significantly reduced, according to the Minister of the Environment.
To make thermal renovation more attractive, the Ministry of Climate Change increased the subsidy amounts for 2023 at the beginning of this year. The subsidy percentages will increase from a maximum of 30 to a maximum of 50 percent and the lump sum payments for renovation have also been increased. The renovation check for private individuals (single and two-family homes, terraced houses) has been increased to a maximum of 14,000 euros per project.
940 million for renovation and replacement of the boiler
For the years 2023/24, the cabinet has budgeted around 940 million euros for the thermal renovation offensive for private individuals and companies and the promotional campaign ‘from oil and gas’. According to Gewessler, about 20 percent of funding last year went to thermal renovation and 80 percent to boiler replacement.
The advertising campaign for the refurbishment bonus must be visible and audible on television, radio, print and online during the subsidy period 2023/24. The budget for 2023 is 3.25 million euros.
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.