Stop The Kaunertal Power Plant Expansion

What’s it all about?

Tiroler Wasserkraft AG (TIWAG) is planning to expand the existing storage hydropower plant in the Kaunertal by constructing 3 additional power plants to form a power plant network. This would have a massive impact on the water balance of the entire Ötztal Alps.

The plans involve constructing dams on the Venter and Gurgler Ache rivers and diverting up to 80% of their flow into the existing Gepatsch Reservoir. This would deprive the Ötztaler Ache river of up to 80m³/s of its water. The project would have enormous negative impacts on the water supply of the Ötztal Valley, which already receives little precipitation as an intra-alpine dry valley and is losing its glaciers as water reservoirs due to climate change. TIWAG would secure water rights for 90 years, leaving farmers, the local population, and tourism in the valley at a disadvantage. The ecological effects on the Venter, Gurgler, and Ötztaler Ache rivers would also be devastating.

Furthermore, a new reservoir is planned in the Platzertal, a high valley west of the Kaunertal. A 120m high and approximately 450m wide dam is proposed to be built, flooding the valley. This would result in the loss of large areas of high-alpine wetlands and moorland. A pumped-storage power plant is planned to operate between this reservoir and the Gepatsch Reservoir.

The water from the Ötztal Valley is intended to be diverted from the Gepatsch Reservoir to the Inn River, where it would be used for two power plants. Additionally, there would be pumping operations between the existing Gepatsch Reservoir and the new reservoir in the Platzertal.

More details of the plan and our main criticisms of the project can be found in this blog article. And in this video, Marianne Götsch from WWF Austria summarizes the expansion plans.

Our Demands

We demand that the Tyrolean State Government, represented by Governor Anton Mattle and State Councilor Josef Geisler, halt the expansion project of the Kaunertal power plant.

The Venter Ache, Gurgler Ache, and all ecologically valuable sections of the Ötztaler Ache river must be protected.

Instead of aggressively promoting the expansion of hydroelectric power in Tyrol, we urge the State Government to swiftly implement structural energy-saving measures, diversify the expansion of renewable energy generation, and enhance the grid infrastructure to adapt to the challenges of the energy transition.

What Is WET Doing?

We are working to raise awareness of the project plans in Tyrol and, together with other initiatives, are organizing a visible and loud protest directed at the provincial government.

This includes, for example, the film tour through the Tyrolean Oberland 2023, which included a panel discussion with experts, as well as demonstrations and protest events on the streets.

We aim to involve as many different people as possible and we invite everyone to take part.

When the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process begins, WET will be granted party status as an environmental organization. We will then also take the bureaucratic route and submit statements on the project.

Get Involved!

We may not have the budget of TIWAG, but together, we are powerful! If everyone pitches in, big or small, we will succeed together. Please sign the petition against the project, see how you can actively contribute here, become a member, or donate to WET!