Director General Michael Losch on climate neutrality, photovoltaics and hydrogen, energy communities and water management.
SC Michael Losch © MCI
Michael Losch, Director General in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, recently spoke at the MCI about the challenges of energy policy in Europe and the effects on the situation in Austria and Tyrol. Based on the energy policy triangle of objectives, which is defined by the cornerstones of security of supply, competitiveness and affordability, and ecological sustainability, he described how climate neutrality can be achieved. In general, he sees the greatest potential for climate-neutral energy supply in the future, in photovoltaics and hydrogen.
The path to climate neutrality leads to the expansion of renewable energies, fundamentally by means of the reduction of CO2 emissions and the improvement of energy efficiency. Austria was excellently positioned in this respect. Firstly, the last Austrian coal-fired power plant in Dürnrohr/Lower Austria is to be shut down shortly - by the end of the heating season. Secondly, Austria possesses a high degree of supply in terms of renewable energies. At present, hydropower is the most important source of energy. However, important momentum also stems from the generation of energy from biomass such as wood chips or organic waste. Michael Losch sees great development potential in photovoltaics in Austria too. There are prominent examples of this in the Sahara: solar power plants with enormous capacities have been built there with Austrian support (Desertec). "We have just as many hours of sunshine in Austria as in the desert. In addition, there is less cooling required. Photovoltaics work just as well for us," he is convinced. In addition, it is important to increasingly feed "green" gas, i.e. hydrogen produced by electrolysis, into the pipelines in order to gradually replace "black" gas, i.e. natural gas and liquid natural gas.
In general, he advises us to see energy supply systemically and with a broader perspective. For example, it could make sense to keep industries that are generally regarded as major emitters in the country or in Europe, because the stricter environmental standards apply here. From a global perspective, this would be more favourable for the energy balance. Another example is the purchase of natural gas to balance out fluctuations in energy demand: "It makes a difference where the gas comes from, how it is transported, and whether energy is lost in transit. “
Even on a small scale, energy supply and energy efficiency could be solved creatively and intelligently. For example, several houses or private households could form an energy community and install a photovoltaic system together. The distribution of the energy could be managed by using the public networks. Michael Losch has another tip for Austria: the more the domestic glaciers melt due to global warming, the greater the danger for the continuity of the water cycle. "It is therefore worthwhile to develop an intelligent system of water management and to use this unique resource sustainably."
Born in Absam, Michael Losch graduated from the Sillgasse Grammar School in Innsbruck before going to Vienna to study commercial sciences. He wrote his dissertation on competition-oriented regulation of the e-economy. From 1997 to 2004, he spent some years in the EU Commission in Brussels, including a post in the cabinet of EU Commissioner Franz Fischler from 1999 to 2004. Since 2004, Michael Losch has been Director General in various ministries, and since January 2020, Director General in the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.