Virtual power plants for self-sustaining regions

Geographic methods for the combination of renewable energy sources to create "virtual power plants" and development of self-sustaining regions in terms of energy-balance and the Kyoto target.

Short Description




Austria's national energy supply is primarily organised on a trans-regional level. A large amount of hydroelectric power contributes to a comparatively positive situation regarding renewable energy sources. Even so, meeting the legally binding emission target of the Kyoto Protocol will be difficult due to a rising energy demand and an energy production that remains dominated by fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources are primarily used to meet demand on a local level, as their large-scale exploitation is limited by economic and technical constraints as well as by resource availability.

The purpose of this project is to develop a mainly regional organised energy supply system with a high degree of internal energy self-sustenance. The highly variable production potential of renewable energy sources should potentially be compensated within one region.

The present project adopted a clearly defined catalogue of objectives, which was accomplished within a specified test region:

  • Definition and description of the test region Salzburg / Berchtesgaden (watershed of the rivers Salzach and Saalach) and assessment of the current situation
  • Development of GIS-based strategies and methods for a geographically based, highly resolved estimation of the theoretical energy potential of biomass, hydro power, solar power and wind power
  • Comparison of these theoretical potentials to the effectively available energy potentials of renewable sources, considering social, ecological and technical constraints
  • Development of spatial indicators to delineate areas that meet the condition of internal self-sustenance by combining virtual power plants and the energy consumption structure in the test region
  • Development of transferable models based on the results in the test region and conceptual preparation of the results to offer a strategic decision support tool

The opportunity to create energy self-sustaining regions based on the optimal combination of different renewable energy potentials into virtual power plants and their correlation with the relative energy demand structure offers a distinctive perspective for decision makers.

The present project results underline the value and structural advantage of organising a balanced, multi-source energy supply on a regional scale, focusing on renewable energy sources. Through the complementary geographic perspective they provide a valuable concept and decision support tool to promote policies and influence relevant legislative, regulatory and institutional frameworks for achieving the commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Project Partners

Project leader

Manfred Mittlboeck
Research Studios Austria der ARC Seibersdorf research GmbH
Leopoldskronstrasse 30, A - 5020 Salzburg
Tel: +43 (0) 662 834602 + 600
Fax: +43 (0) 662 834602 + 222
Internet: Seibersdorf Research

Project partners

  • Zentrum für Geoinformatik Salzburg (Projektpartner)
  • Salzburg AG
  • Verbundplan GmbH