On Sunday, Austria’s federal government announced it cut a deal with energy group Verbund and will convert the Mellach power plant in Styria to run on coal.
The announcement comes as Russia has delivered only half as much gas as promised in the past few days. Austria gets 80 percent of its supply from Moscow and has been looking for alternative sources since the war in Ukraine.
Mellach was Austria’s last coal-fired power plant until it was converted into a gas-sourced plant and put on stand-by in 2020.
The decision to convert it back to coal two years after the country celebrated its coal phase-out was taken by a crisis cabinet led by chancellor Karl Nehammer.
“The most important thing is that the acute gas demand can be met, and we can create gas supplies for the winter,” Nehammer said. Currently, gas storage facilities are filled at 39 percent, but should be at 80 percent by October to be ready for the heating season.
The plant operator said it would need time to make necessary changes to Mellach and purchase the required coal for combustion.
The goal is to have operations ready so that the power plant can be used in a few months, if necessary, the Ministry of Energy told Der Standard.
In the long run, though, Austria intends to reduce its dependence on Russia, which will take years, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessl said.