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The future of energy - Providing secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy for all is a major challenge, and is essential to economic growth and prosperity in Europe.

The global energy business is in a ferment of change. It is on course for a sustainable energy system that will limit climate change. The challenges faced globally and in Europe are immense. Security of supply, as well as efficiency and affordability, must be delivered along with decarbonisation and the move to green technology. This can only be achieved by a huge collective effort, for which the EU’s Energy Union strategy and the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris have laid the groundwork.

Gas is a guarantor of secure, sustainable, affordable and competitive energy supplies. These four factors are the keys to the success of the energy transformation.

Conserving resources, boosting efficiency, enhancing storability, reducing dependency on imports and expanding the use of domestic energy sources are central issues for Europe’s energy sector – and we must pay close attention to them.

Ambitious targets

Both Austria and Europe as a whole have set themselves ambitious energy and climate targets. The goals contained in Austria’s “#mission 2030” climate and energy strategy include the expansion of renewable energy generation, a 36 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and carbon-free energy supplies by 2050. With the right strategy, we can meet these goals.
The energy transformation represents a paradigm shift in terms of sustainability, to be achieved by greater energy efficiency, more complete integration of renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing energy consumption at the same time as decarbonising the energy mix does not simply mean conserving resources – it demands appropriate improvements in efficiency, and enabling renewable and conventional energy sources to work together. The gas industry can make a significant contribution. Gas offers economically viable climate action in all areas; it is the guarantor of supply security, sustainability and competitiveness. The success of the energy transformation depends on these factors working together. Paired with the expansion of renewable energy sources, gas offers a huge opportunity for reducing CO2 emissions that is affordable and available immediately. Its versatility and flexibility means that gas – and increasingly renewable green gas – offers a secure and sustainable supply of energy using existing infrastructure (the gas grid, storage facilities, gas heating systems and gas-fired power stations), and can underpin affordable, socially acceptable and rapid action to combat climate change.

Security of supply

The energy transformation can only succeed if security of supply is guaranteed. Highly developed gas infrastructure, including storage facilities, means that enough energy is always available. Austria’s high storage capacity provides security: with total capacity (working gas volume) of 8.3 bn cu m, the country’s storage facilities can hold more than 100% of its annual needs. Barely a single other EU member state has such high storage capacity relative to its consumption.

Our vision for 2050

Austrian households that use gas heating can be supplied with 100 % renewable gas. If the potential for biogas generation (from residual materials) and production of synthetic gas (from electricity surpluses) in Austria is fully exploited, in 2050 these will meet the entire heating demand (gas central heating and district heating) of all households in Austria – carbon-neutrally.



As energy consumption continues to rise worldwide, intensive research and technological breakthroughs are essential if today’s ambitious climate change targets are to be attained. Recent studies show that although large-scale decarbonisation represents a considerable challenge, rapid technological progress makes it feasible, and it also represents an economic opportunity. These structural changes in the energy sector present an enormous opportunity for innovative technologies, services and ideas.

For some time now RAG has been working on promising solutions that address the changes in energy policies and the energy sector. These efforts are based on three pillars.

  • Increasing gas storage capacity, which plays an important part in strengthening security of supply in Austria and Europe, and in supporting the expansion of renewable energy sources;
  • Promoting decentralised, renewable, energy-efficient energy generation that exploits all potential synergies, and extends from heat generation and geothermal projects to natural gas vehicles;
  • Green gas and the development of sustainable, cutting-edge technologies such as power-to-gas, which makes it possible to manufacture synthetic – and thus sustainable - gas from wind and solar energy.

This allows RAG to support the goals of the Energy Union and the Paris Climate Change Conference, as well as making an important contribution to sustainable, secure and affordable energy supplies.

“Green gas not only has vast potential, it’s sustainable, affordable and storable. In other words, it is the enabler of the energy transformation.”

Gas storage facilities

When the wind blows steadily and there is plenty of sunshine, renewables often produce more electricity than is needed. Power-to-gas enables such surpluses to be recovered and stored, in the form of green gas, in Austria’s storage facilities – the country’s biggest “battery”. All the other storage concepts (pump storage plants and batteries) offer only a fraction of the storage capacity presented by gas storage facilities.


Green Gas

Green gas – meaning renewable gas – can be biogas, generated from plant residues and other waste, or synthetic gas produced from excess electricity generation using power-to-gas. This means power generated from renewable sources can be converted into gas – hydrogen or methane – so that excess solar and wind energy is not lost, but can be carried over from summer to winter, stored and made available when needed. The infrastructure is already in place – green gas can be injected into Austria’s nearly 43,000 km gas network, and held in gas storage facilities. These natural underground gas reservoirs, which can hold more gas than is consumed in Austria in a year, are being upgraded to prepare them for their future role. The existing infrastructure can therefore be used as the “battery” of the energy transformation, and provide the necessary back-up for the volatile renewables.
Both biogas and synthetic natural gas are completely carbon neutral, and therefore climate friendly.

Many studies show that using existing gas infrastructure and power-to-gas technology can help to significantly reduce the system costs entailed in the energy transformation. It can remove the need to build additional high-voltage power lines, as well as saving consumers money since they can continue to use existing gas central heating systems.
Two key advantages of green gas are that it is flexible and dependable. It is always available, even if the wind doesn’t blow and the skies are overcast, providing climate friendly energy for power generation, heating and transportation all year round, 24 hours a day – just as needed. It possesses the same excellent qualities as the conventional natural gas that has supplied us with energy for decades, and it is renewable, too.
Another benefit of gas is its high efficiency: in combined heat and power (CHP) plants, where thermal energy from gas is used to generate heat as well as electricity, efficiency is close to 90 %. And if gas is used in a condensing boiler, efficiency of 96 % can be achieved.

Working together, natural gas and green gas represent the only realistic prospect for achieving climate targets while safeguarding security of supply.

“According to our forecasts, by 2050 all Austrian household gas consumers can be supplied in full with green gas, opening the way for sustainable heating.”


#mission 2030

Austria’s climate and energy strategy commits it to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s 2030 targets.
By 2050 the country aims to have created a modern, resource-friendly, decarbonised energy system.


  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions 
    Greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 36 % from 2005 levels by 2030. Measures will focus on transportation and buildings.
  • Renewable energy
    The share of renewables in overall consumption is to rise to between 45 % and 50 % by 2030. The figure currently stands at 33.5 %. The aim is for all of Austria’s electricity needs to be met by renewable energy sources by 2030.
  • Raising energy efficiency
    To permit continued growth in future, especially in the industrial sector, by 2030 primary energy intensity is targeted to improve by 25-30 % in comparison with 2015. 
  • Security of supply is top priority
    The focus will be on existing highly efficient CHP plants as well as the necessary expansion and modernisation of network and storage infrastructure.

    Flagship project: Production of green gas will be promoted as a major flagship project. Measures will include reduced costs for injection into the grid and tax advantages.

Source: BMNT, BMVIT – May 2018



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