Construction has officially started at the 11MW Gratkorn hydropower plant on the river Mur, north of Graz, Styria, Austria, with the formal groundbreaking ceremony held on 25 March.
The project is being jointly developed by Verbund and Energie Steiermark, who have invested around €80 million. Expected to be placed into operation in 2024, the project will generate around 54 million kWh a year, covering the annual electricity requirements of around 15,000 households.
“The current development on the international energy markets shows us in a drastic way how urgent it is to expand renewable energies,” said Michael Strugl, CEO of Verbund. “The hydroelectric power plants - like here with the Gratkorn power plant - but also wind power and photovoltaics will be the supporting pillars of the renewable energy future.”
"The Gratkorn power plant on the Mur will not only make a contribution on our way to independence from fossil energy imports in the medium term, this run-of-river power plant will, above all, also be a building block for increasing security of supply from the day it goes into operation," emphasized COO Achim Kaspar, a member of the Verbund Management Board responsible for the production area.
"We see this project, which is extremely positive from an economic point of view, as a further milestone in the climate change and can thus further expand our sustainability strategy," added board duo Christian Purrer and Martin Graf from Energie Steiermark. "Especially in view of the current Corona crisis, this investment is a green employment turbo for the regional economy and provides significant impetus in the region".
Following the ground-breaking ceremony, structural diversion of the Mur will be completed over the next few weeks. This will enable a dry excavation pit during the construction phase, in which the Gratkorn power plant will be built from summer 2022.
In addition to a wide range of accompanying ecological measures, the new hydroelectric power station will also improve flood protection for the communities north of Graz. An additional Mur bridge for cyclists, pedestrians and recreational athletes in the area of ??the power plant upgrades the leisure facilities and the cycle path network.
Local residents, communities and interest groups were already involved in the project as part of a planning forum during the planning phase for the Gratkorn power plant. With the official start of construction, this communication with the public will continue in the form of regular site visits.
Photo (© Energie Steiermark): Groundbreaking ceremony for the Gratkorn power plant. (from left to right) Managing Director Karl Heinz Gruber (Hydro Power), Spokesman of the Board Christian Purrer (Energy Styria), Member of the National Council Karin Greiner as deputy for LH Deputy. Anton Lang, Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer, CEO Michael Strugl (Association), Board Member Martin Graf (Energie Steiermark), Managing Director Michael Ammerer (Hydro Power), Abbot Philipp Helm (Stift Rein), Project Manager MKW Gratkorn David Oberlerchner (Association)