Research, development and innovation

For Energie AG, research, development and innovation is an essential component to being well prepared for meeting future challenges. Despite the changed economic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work on numerous projects continued successfully in the period under review.

European and Austrian objectives relating to climate targets are leading to increasingly concrete consequences and regulations, resulting in new projects and fields of research. In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, for example, projects on hydrogen technology were prepared and launched in the scope of the “Hydrogen Initiative Showcase Region Austria Power & Gas” (WIVA P&G). A central role in shifting electricity production from renewable sources from summer to winter and in industrial decarbonisation is attributed to hydrogen as an energy carrier.

Aware of its social responsibility for future generations and its responsibility for the secure supply of Upper Austria, Energie AG is also proactive and highly committed in all Group segments to dealing with fields such as electrification, decarbonisation and greening of sectors, increasing energy production from renewable sources, and integrating this into the existing energy system. Digitalisation and automation play a central role in development and innovation.

Since the 2019/2020 fiscal year, “innovation”, an important issue for the future, has been actively promoted by Wertstatt 8 GmbH, which was founded on 1 October 2019. This wholly owned subsidiary focuses its activities on the development of digital solutions and innovative business models relating to energy and the environment.

Furthermore, Energie AG attaches great importance to good networking and intensive collaboration with cooperation partners from science and industry. This guarantees a successful exchange with valuable mutual benefits.

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In fiscal year 2020/2021, research, development and innovation were pursued in the following projects (non-exhaustive list):

“Underground Sun Storage 2030”

In the course of WIVA P&G, the “Underground Sun Storage 2030” project is researching large-volume storage of hydrogen in depleted natural gas deposits in cooperation with eleven consortium partners. Surplus electricity from renewable energy sources is converted into hydrogen by means of electrolysis and stored in this form, making it available as an energy carrier for use at a later date. This is of utmost importance for the future energy system, as the strong expansion of photovoltaics, among other things, will lead to surplus electricity available in the summer months but a deficit of electricity in the winter. Energie AG is involved in work packages for the production of green hydrogen from renewable electricity by means of electrolysis and in feeding the stored green hydrogen into the existing Netz Oberösterreich GmbH (Netz OÖ GmbH) gas grid.


Two 100-km district heating networks in Upper Austria and Styria are being planned in the "HeatHighway" project as part of the NEFI showcase region (“New Energy for Industry”) with partial sections being implemented in practice to the extent possible. Interregional heat transfer networks connecting several industrial waste heat and other sustainable heat sources as well as several district heating networks, industrial process heat sinks and storage facilities are being investigated. In addition to developing an interdisciplinary toolbox for implementing interregional heat transfer networks, the focus is on anticipating the medium-term use of waste heat from innovative processes, developing a cost-effective pipe system and subsequently constructing a “lean pipe prototype”. The aim is also to demonstrate the technical controllability of such a system in the form of a “virtual heat transfer network demonstrator” based on 3D simulations.

Peer2Peer electricity exchange app “E-Fairteiler” (fair e-distributor)

Together with Vertrieb GmbH, Wertstatt 8 GmbH developed E-Fairteiler in a strongly customer-centric innovation process; E-Fairteiler is an app that enables customers to exchange, sell, give away or donate self-generated electricity. It allows owners of photovoltaic (PV) systems to supply regionally generated solar electricity to customers without PV systems. Every customer can use the app to obtain local renewable electricity, prioritise their local suppliers in line with their individual needs and come to price agreements with them. Energie AG customers were actively involved in its development and the prototype was successfully tested in a pilot region. The “Ökostrom E-Fairteiler” electricity product now available does not require any additional hardware, as it uses the data from the smart meter electricity meters.

Ecological research of watercourses with hydroelectric power utilisation

Research focusing on aquatic ecology is being conducted in sub-projects with various partners on topics such as sediment management in watercourses with hydroelectric power utilisation, downstream fish migration and the ecological potential of high-altitude alpine residual flow stretches of watercourses affected by hydropeaking.

ECOSINT – Energy Community System INTegration

A suitable architecture for local energy communities is being developed together with partners from the energy industry, automation technology and energy informatics, as well as representatives of the regulatory authority and other grid operators. The intent is to use this for community plants, renewable energy communities or citizens' energy communities and to enable the use of flexibilities such that local energy communities can be integrated into the overall system in a way that benefits the grid and is conductive for the system as a whole.

Digitalisation and automation initiatives

Energie AG is consistently pushing forward with its digitalisation and automation initiative. This generates direct benefits for internal processes, such as projects in power plant maintenance where a strategy for the predictive maintenance of power plants was launched, a digital dam monitoring system was developed, and a “digital twin” of a dam was created.

In the waste management area, the handling (sampling, emptying, repackaging) of hazardous liquid substances has been made easier and safer for employees by automated processing and industrial robots.

Customers are also benefitting directly from Energie AG's initiatives such as the “Water under Control” pilot project in the scope of which smart water meters were tested in two Upper Austrian communities. The smart water meters offer customers additional features, such as an overview of consumption trends and an alert in the event of unusual consumption developments, for example due to leaks in the building. Municipalities can benefit from simplified meter readings and plan pool fills in a better way.

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