Energy Research Knowledge Centre


Research themes and prioritisation


Austria’s main motivations for energy research reflect EU energy policy, which aims to combine secure and economically affordable sources of energy with future sustainability in energy supply. With this in mind Austria supports RD&D in SMEs, industry, universities and non-university research institutions. Cooperative research projects strengthen the links between industry and research organisations to create a solid national industrial policy (Table 1).

Organisation of research


The main responsibility for national research and for science in general lies with the Ministry for Science and Research (BMWF). Energy research is the responsibility of the ministries responsible for research, applied science and demonstration, respectively.

Figure 1: Organisational structure of energy research in Austrian federal ministries

The ministry accountable for the strategic setup and implementation of applied energy R&D programmes is the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT). The BMVIT establishes the research programmes and takes the primary role in coordinating energy research activities within the government. The BMVIT also works with the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW) as well as the individual states. Other ministries involved in energy research include the Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth (BMWFJ) and the Ministry of Finance – the latter contributing horizontal budgetary competence.

Since 2007 the Climate and Energy Fund of the Federal Government has been the main source of government funding for energy research. The Climate and Energy Fund is maintained by the BMVIT and the BMLFUW. Sub-programmes under the Climate and Energy Fund are: New Energies 2020, Smart Energy Demo – fit4SET, and Technology Lighthouses for Electromobility in Austria.

The central body for public basic research funding is the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Together with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the FWF funds applied research and builds contact points for industry-oriented research and the promotion of innovation. This structure also includes other institutions such as the Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG).

The most important institutions carrying out energy research are the Austrian Academy of Science, the universities, the Institute of Science and Technology Austria and the Austrian Institute of Technology.

Most energy research funding is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency at the operative and administrative level, on behalf of the Climate and Energy Fund, the BMVIT and the BMWFJ. Further support activities are driven directly by the ministries in the form of subsidies, research contracts, and special actions like prizes and awards.

Priority is given to establishing strategic programmes. These include supporting SMEs, industry, universities and non-university research institutions through cooperative research projects to strengthen links between industry and academia.

According to the current Energy Research Strategy for Austria (2010), energy research has three main pillars: energy efficiency, renewable energy and security of supply. This framework is designed to create a mix of energy sources and raw materials to ensure security of supply, cost-effectiveness, and environmental and social acceptability. In particular, the Strategy focuses on energy-efficient buildings, logistics and mobility, energy-efficient technologies for final energy use, sociological and ecological research, life-cycle analysis, foresight studies, energy storage and distribution, smart grids, process heat from renewable sources, biofuels, and transport.


Programmes and budgets


Budget overview

The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund in the period 2007–2012 had a budget of €730 million and supported approximately 43 000 projects (as of 2013). From this fund €171 million was spent on energy issues in the period 2007–2011. For 2012 the fund had a total budget of €130 million, of which 67 % (€87.6 million) was dedicated to energy research and market penetration projects.

Besides fundamental research, the Climate and Energy Fund supports research in strategic priority areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility and transport, model regions and buildings for applied research, and support for market penetration.

Table 1: The main energy research programmes in Austria.

* Estimated share of energy research budget in both programmes. Total budget COMET: €1400 million for the period 2007 to 2017
** Total budget COIN: EUR 46.9 million for the period 2008 to 2012; until the year 2012 the programme line "Aufbau" projects was funded with a total of €29.6 million and in the programme line "Cooperative Networks" with €17.3 million.
***Total budget: €90 million for the period 2005 to 2013 for environment and energy related research and demonstration activities.

Programmes and initiatives

New Energies 2020 / e! – Energy Mission Austria

Neue Energien 2020 / e! – Energy Mission Austria

This programme focuses on ambitious long-term R&D in energy technology. The idea is to begin with fundamental research, move through pilot and demonstration phases and eventually reach market maturity. The programme has three headings: Efficient Energy Use, Renewable Energies, and Intelligent Energy Systems.

The programme is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency and receives its budget from the Climate and Energy Fund. The budget for the period 2008–2011 was €130 million.

Technology Lighthouses for Electromobility

Technologische Leuchttürme der Elektromobilität

By 2020, several thousand electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are forecast to be operating on Austrian roads. An important incentive for these is provided by the Technology Lighthouses for Electromobility programme, which supports the near-market development and demonstration of innovations and technologies for future electric vehicles. The programme is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency and receives an annual budget from the Climate and Energy Fund. The budget for the period 2008–2012 was €40.7 million.

House of Tomorrow / House of Tomorrow Plus

Haus der Zukunft Plus / Haus der Zukunft Plus

House of Tomorrow Plus is a programme financed by the Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology. It aims to use fundamental research, cooperation in technology development and accompanying measures, and demonstration projects to commercialise energy-related innovations in the building sector. Topics include: key technologies for future buildings; strategies, education and networking; demonstration buildings; and industrial transformation of innovative technologies. The programme started in 2010 and runs until 2013.

House of Tomorrow Plus is a follow-up to the original House of Tomorrow programme, which ran from 1999 to 2010. By the beginning of 2010 House of Tomorrow had launched six calls and provided €35 million to support 300 projects.

Smart Energy Demo (fit4SET)

Smart Energy Demo (fit4SET)

The objective of this programme is to transform an Austrian city, settlement or urban region into a ‘smart city’ or a ‘smart urban region’. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate the intelligent green technologies and other aspects of sustainable living needed to create the first zero-emission city. The programme contains two calls. The first, which closed in March 2011, was for the formation of consortia and the development of initial concepts. The second call, which closed in February 2012, was for ‘Smart Energy’ demonstration projects. The programme is managed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and receives an annual budget from the Climate and Energy Fund. The budget for 2012 was €8 million.

Energy Research Initiative


The Energy Research Initiative is the most recent initiative initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth. The objective of this programme, starting in the year 2013, is the motivation of Austrian companies to follow new ways of transforming research into their competitive advantage by the realisation of prototype and demonstration facilities in the frame of the European Energy Roadmap 2050. The initiative should support the development of new processes for the CO2 free generation of hydrogen and the use of pure CO2 as a raw material for market relevant products and for industrial processes. The initiative is bundling existing funding instruments of BMWFJ and FFG for dedicated calls on energy research and demonstration projects with a total budget of €10 million.

Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies (COMET)

Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies (COMET)

The aim of the COMET programme is to foster cooperation between industry and academic research and to push the building and application of common research competences in areas including energy and the environment. The programme’s speciality is its ambitious emphasis on excellence, the integration of international research know-how, and the need for Austrian companies to become technology leaders in support of the country’s position as a research hub. COMET, together with the programme COIN, provided energy related research for €6 million in 2010 and €5 million in 2011.

COMET’s three action lines – ‘K2-Zentren’, ‘K1-Zentren” and ‘K-Projekte’ – support projects with different sets of requirements in terms of international participation, size and duration.

COMET - Das Programm

Cooperation and Innovation (COIN)

Kooperation und Innovation (KOIN)

COIN aims to improve Austria’s capacity for innovation, with better and broader transformation of knowledge into innovations. A crucial aspect of COIN is cooperation between companies, universities and non-university research centres.

COIN supports many research fields, including environment and energy. It was set up in 2008 and has three programme lines: Building, Cooperation and Networks. COIN, together with the programme COIN, provided energy related research for €6 million in 2010 and €5 million in 2011.

COIN - Strukturprogramme

National govermment departments


Federal Ministry for Science and Research (BMWF)

The BMWF is responsible for universities and for R&D in Austria. It supports various projects and other co-operative ventures, as well as collaboration with corresponding institutions in other EU member states.

Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)

The BMVIT is responsible for transport, post, telecommunications, innovation and technology. With regard to energy the Ministry deals with issues such as electromobility, energy and the environment through energy efficiency in buildings and cities, intelligent energy systems and renewable energies. The Ministry supports research and demonstration projects in these areas.

Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth (BMWFJ)

The BMWFJ prioritises the promotion of investment in research, development and innovation and the creation of appropriate conditions to strengthen Austrian companies, particularly SMEs. This is done through a range of programmes, initiatives and networks.

Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW)

The ‘Ministry of Life’ is responsible for many aspects affecting the quality of life of Austria’s citizens: agriculture, forestry, environment and water management. The Ministry supports climate protection and future national energy independence through the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Austrian Climate and Energy Fund

The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund, established by the government in 2007, had by 2013 developed 111 programmes. By 2010 it had funded over 29 000 projects, and by 2012 this figure had reached 35 000 projects. Topics include fundamental research, electromobility, renewable energies and energy efficiency for private companies, municipalities and non-university research centres.

According to its founding law the Climate and Energy Fund finances three target areas: R&D in sustainable energy technologies and climate research; projects concerned with local public transport, mobility management and environmentally friendly commodity transport; and projects supporting the market implementation of sustainable energy technologies.

National research programme management agencies


The national energy programmes in Austria are managed by dedicated offices on behalf of the respective ministries. Each of the main research themes is allocated to one or more offices.

Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)

The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) is the national funding institution for applied research and development in Austria. It offers a comprehensive range of services to Austrian enterprises, research institutions and researchers – from the management of public funding programmes to consulting services in all phases of technology development and innovation. With regard to energy the agency promotes technologies that enable more efficient use of energy, supports the creation and development of new smart energy infrastructures, and facilitates the development and optimisation of renewable energy sources. About 16 % of all FFG funding is used for activities covering the environment, energy or sustainability (average figure for 2008–2010). A large number of projects under these headings are funded under the FFG’s General Programmes and other programmes that are open to all fields, e.g. the Structural Programmes. This includes COMET Competence Centres and K projects as well as COIN projects. Apart from these generic programmes, funding schemes like New Energies 2020, House of Tomorrow Plus and Smart Energy Demo (FIT4SET) are particularly suited to research in the areas of environment and energy.

Funding organisations at national level


Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research. The FWF works with a wide range of support programmes. In 2011 the FWF provided €195 million to support research projects – an increase of €23 million compared to 2010.

Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG)

The Christian Doppler Research Association (CDG) promotes research cooperation between Austrian businesses, universities and non-university research centres. The CDG established a seven-year project, Christian Doppler Laboratories, to carry out applied scientific research in areas important to businesses.