OMV and Verbund to build Austria's largest solar plant

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Austrian oil and gas group OMV is seen at a gas station in Vienna, Austria, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria’s oil and gas group OMV and utility Verbund have agreed to jointly build a solar plant that will have the capacity to supply 5,500 households with electricity, the companies said on Monday.

Austria’s largest photovoltaic plant, which will deliver around 18 Gigawatt Hours (GWh) of power, is due to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2020 and will result in annual savings of around 12,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, the companies said in a joint statement.

The companies plan to each invest 5 to 6 million euros ($5.66-$6.80 million) in the solar plant, Verbund Chief Executive Wolfgang Anzengruber said at a news conference.

“This strategic, long-term cooperation between Austria’s two biggest energy companies brings us a huge step forward towards the energy future and towards realizing our climate targets”, Anzengruber said.

OMV and Verbund have been in talks regarding possible joint projects for years. In 2017, OMV bought a 40% stake in Smatrics, a company that provides charging points for electric cars, owned by Verbund and Germany’s Siemens.

OMV and Verbund also said on Monday that they would evaluate options to build an electrolytic hydrogen production facility. That technology takes power from renewables and uses it to split water via electrolysis. The green hydrogen produced by this process can be used for chemical production processes.

Verbund is already working on a hydrogen project with Germany’s Siemens and Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine.

($1 = 0.8827 euros)

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Michelle Martin