Vienna-Alsergrund has been home to a Viennese landmark since 1971. The Spittelau waste incineration plant supplies over 60,000 households annually with environmentally friendly district heating and almost 50,000 households with electricity.
“We are on fire for climate protection – and have been for half a century here in Spittelau!” says Wien Energie Managing Director Karl Gruber on the occasion of the anniversary. “Our plant is a true energy miracle: electricity, heating and cooling are generated here in the middle of the city from the household waste of the Viennese, environmentally friendly and clean!”
Wien Energie recycles around 250,000 tons of household waste at the plant every year. With this power plant, the energy service provider has set new standards in environmental protection: The site has one of the world’s most modern flue gas cleaning systems and recycles waste at the highest environmental level. In addition, a flue gas denitrification system has been installed at Spittelau for the first time in the world at a thermal waste treatment plant. Thanks to these measures, the plant operates in a particularly environmentally friendly manner: Wien Energie undercuts the legal limits in waste incineration plants by 90 per cent on an annual average.
Colourful Hundertwasser facades as a sign of ecology
One of the reasons for the high environmental standards was the cooperation with the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. After a major fire in 1987, he artistically designed the plant. Requirements for this cooperation were high efforts in the environmental field and the expansion of recycling in the city. Since 1992, thanks to Hundertwasser’s ecological commitment and his artistic practice, the waste incineration plant has been one of the most photographed buildings in Vienna. The artist saw the Spittelau facade construction as a “memorial for a more beautiful, waste-free future.”
New lettering in Hundertwasser design
Until recently, “Fernwärme Wien” could be read in large, bright letters in Hundertwasser design on the administration tower next to the waste incineration plant. Since the redesign of the plant was almost 30 years ago, the technology in the letters was no longer functional. Wien Energie is using the 50th anniversary of Spittelau as an opportunity to renew the lettering. In close cooperation with the Hundertwasser Foundation, it has now been redesigned. From now on, “Wien Energie” shines in large red letters on the roof of the building. Part of the old letters was handed over to the Kunsthaus Wien as a piece of “Spittelau history”. Gruber: “The new lettering symbolizes that we are continuously developing. Spittelau is well positioned in all areas for the next 50 years to provide the Viennese with reliable and environmentally friendly electricity, heating and cooling!”
Not only waste incineration
The Spittelau power plant site fulfils other functions for the Viennese in addition to waste incineration. Since 2009, the site has been home to a district cooling centre, which Wien Energie uses to provide environmentally friendly cooling. The 17 megawatts of district cooling capacity are equivalent to around 4,860 conventional air-conditioning units. A power-to-heat plant is also currently being built. Like a kind of oversized kettle, the plant will convert surplus electricity from the grid into heat in the future, thus helping to stabilize the power grid. “We are also literally developing the Spittelau site further and further. In terms of climate protection, we are networking the electricity and heat sectors even more closely with our new power-to-heat plant, thus taking another important step towards the energy transition,” says Gruber. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in spring 2022.
Showcase plant with appeal
The high environmental standards and unique design are a real magnet for visitors. International delegations flock to Vienna from all over the world to see Spittelau as a best practice. Wien Energie conducts a total of around 420 guided tours for around 10,000 interested parties every year. During Corona, the energy service provider also offers online tours.