The Danube is a mighty river. It flows through Austria’s largest state and with it brings power: so much that the state’s governor says they no longer need to use fossil fuels to generate electricity.

The state of Lower Austria, which encircles Vienna, now gets nearly two-thirds of its electricity from hydropower, Erwin Pröll said at a news conference yesterday (Nov. 5). Of the remainder, the state sources a quarter from from wind and the rest from biomass and solar. No fossil fuels have to be burned to make the state self-sufficient in power.

Lower Austria is home to 1.6 million of the country’s 8 million people, and is leading the rest of the country in renewable production. That in itself is quite an achievement. As a whole, Austria produces around 70% of its electricity via renewables, the highest share in the EU. It’s blessed by a mountainous geography that makes hydropower—usually produced by damming rivers at altitude and then letting the water flow downhill—possible.

(Quartz 6.11 2015)

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