Vorarlberger Illwerke

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Vorarlberger Illwerke AG

legal form Corporation
founding 1924
resolution 2019
Reason for dissolution fusion
Seat Bregenz , AustriaAustriaAustria 
Branch power supply
Website www.illwerke.at

The Vorarlberg Illwerke AG was an Austrian energy company based in Bregenz . The majority owner was the state of Vorarlberg with a share of 95.5% . On July 2, 2019, Vorarlberger Illwerke AG and Vorarlberger Kraftwerke AG were merged into illwerke vkw AG .

Power plants

Illwerke built in Montafon ten hydroelectric power plants , which peak load -Energy for the national and international electricity market is created. Water from the Silvretta and the surrounding areas is fed to several storage power plants in a widely ramified system of tunnels, pipes, canals and reservoirs . The electricity generated there is fed into the European power grid and largely sold to Energie Baden-Württemberg AG .

The most visible components of the hydropower system are the four large reservoirs: the Illwerke began building the Vermunt reservoir around 1930, followed later by the Silvretta reservoir on the Bielerhöhe (completed in 1951), the Lünersee (1959) and the Kopssee (1969).

Power plant group Obere Ill-Lünersee
Schematic representation

Transfer from the Brandner Glacier 2480  m above sea level A.
Ill origin ( Ochsentaler Glacier ) 2460  m
Silvretta reservoir 2030  m
Drain to Ill  |  Lünersee 1970  m
Kleinvermunt pumping station 1670  m
Stream crossing Fasulbach and Rosanna
Kops reservoir 1809  m
Obervermuntwerk I 1743  m
Transfer Kops-Vermunt with tributaries
Vermuntsee 1743  m
Lockroom salonies 1690  m
Obervermuntwerk II 1655  m
Rells-, Vilifau- and Zaluandabach tributaries
Storage basin rells 1456  m
Rellswerk 1430  m
Kopswerk II   |   Kopswerk  I   |   Vermuntwerk 1025  m
Partenen compensation pool 1025  m
Free-flow tunnel Partenen-Latschau
Rifawerk 1005  m
Rifa compensation pool 1007  m
Tributaries Garnera, Vermilbach, Suggadin
Lünerseewerk 992  m
Latschau reservoir 992  m
Latschauwerk 985  m
Rodundwerk I   |   Rodundwerk II 645  m
Inflow from Ill
Rodund basin  I to III 645  m
Drain to Ill
Alvier tributary
Inflow quantity
Walgauwerk 492  m
Walgau compensation basin 492  m
Drain to Ill
  • Vermuntwerk (construction started in 1926, commissioning in 1931)
  • Obervermuntwerk (construction started in 1938, provisional commissioning in 1943)
  • Silvretta reservoir (construction started in 1938, first partial dam in 1943; first full dam in 1950)
  • Rodundwerk I with intermediate stage Latschau (construction started in 1938, commissioning in stages from 1943–1952)
  • Latschauwerk (construction started in 1938, commissioning in 1950)
  • Lünerseewerk (start of construction in 1954, commissioning in 1958)
  • Kopswerk I with Rifawerk (construction started in 1961, commissioning in 1969)
  • Rodundwerk II (1976 commissioning)
  • Walgauwerk (start of construction in 1980, commissioning in 1985)
  • Kopswerk II (construction started in 2004, commissioning in 2009)
  • Rellswerk (construction started in 2014, commissioning in 2018)
  • Obervermuntwerk II (construction started in 2014, commissioning in 2019)
Latschau reservoir
KW Rodund I + II at Vandans
The Kopssee


Founded in 1924

Postcard from April 1944 from a forced laborer from Belgium employed as a "technician" at the Illwerke

The first power station in the Montafon was put into operation in Schruns as early as 1895 and in 1901 electricity was also generated on the Ill in Lorüns .

The Getzner company built an electricity station on the Meng for the spinning mill in Nenzing in 1896/97 . In 1917/18, in view of the expected end of the war, alternative energy sources to coal were sought. The dean of Bregenz, Barnabas Fink , who was elected by the Vorarlberg state parliament in 1917 as the speaker for the expansion of the use of hydropower, had a hydropower register created for this purpose.

With the signing of the contract on November 5, 1924, the Vorarlberger Illwerke Ges.mbH was founded and in 1926 the development and construction work began. The north-south line (Rhineland line) was built at the same time to transport the electrical energy generated into the Ruhr area . The overhead line , initially designed for 220  kV , connects the Bürs and Brauweiler substations near Cologne and was completed in 1929.

In 1926 the state contract was signed in 1926 by Großkraftwerk Württemberg  AG (GROWAG) , the district association Oberschwäbische Elektrizitätswerke (OEW) , the state of Vorarlberg ( VKW ) and the Illwerke (VIW).

On December 20, 1927, the business form was converted into a stock corporation and the Vorarlberger Illwerke Aktiengesellschaft was created . The task was the expansion of hydropower in the catchment area of ​​the Ill. Shareholders were: GROWAG, OEW, the state of Württemberg , the Württembergische collective rails  AG (WÜSAG) and the state of Vorarlberg.

Expansion of the facilities from 1938

After the Vermunt Reservoir went into operation and Austria was "connected" in 1938, the German Reich promoted further expansion: Austria's energy reserves (water power) were of great importance for the Third Reich. The new rulers pushed ahead with the expansion of the power plants in Vorarlberg. The large construction sites required a considerable number of workers, so that German and domestic construction companies also employed prisoners of war and forced labor on the construction sites. In October 1940, 1410 “ freelance German employees and workers ”, 172 guards, 1728 “foreign workers” and 1590 prisoners of war were employed under inhumane conditions on the Illwerk construction sites. Due to the importance of the Illwerke in the war as a generator of peak electricity in the event of bottlenecks in an area relatively safe from bombing, large sums of money were invested in new systems. During the Nazi era , the Illwerke were able to increase electricity generation by 243%, which is mainly due to the construction of the Rodundwerk I, Obervermuntwerk and Silvrettastausee plants, which were provisionally commissioned in 1943, and the expansion of existing facilities. The Latschauwerk was not completed by the end of the war.

In 1945 the Gauleiter of Tyrol and Reich Defense Commissioner Franz Hofer ordered to defend the Illwerke facilities in Partenen and on Vermunt against the advancing French or to destroy them immediately. The von Partenen resistance group, led by Illwerke engineer Romed Boss, managed to disarm and arrest the soldiers on the night of April 30th to May 1st. The detonators were rendered harmless and the anti-aircraft ammunition sunk in the Vermunt reservoir.

In June 1946 there were still 182 political prisoners in the Bludenz district (Rungelin and Bings camps). 80 former National Socialists were also involuntarily employed at the Rodund power plant .

In 1947, through the 2nd Nationalization Act, 90% of the German stock holdings at that time went to the Republic of Austria and the State of Vorarlberg.

post war period

From 1949 to 1952, numerous company apartments were built in Gantschier and later on Latschau .

The 1952 Illwerke contract was made necessary by the changed political situation after the war. There was a new regulation of the contractual relationships with the German electricity consumers.

Construction of the Lünerseewerk could only begin after a loan was granted by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Washington DC ( World Bank ) in 1954/55. The general director of Illwerke, Anton Ammann, was made an honorary citizen of Schruns in September 1954.

In the years 1960 to 1985, the power plants Kops  1 (cavern power plant ), Rodundwerk 2 (pumped storage power plant) and Walgauwerk (run-of-river power plant) were built and put into operation.

With the amendment of the 2nd Nationalization Act in 1987, there were several special regulations for Illwerke: RWE withdrew as a contractual partner in 1988, so that Österreichische Elektrizitätswirtschafts-AG (Verbund) and the states of Vorarlberg and Tyrol took over the rights and obligations.

Enterprises in the liberalized electricity market

Up to November 1995, the Republic of Austria and the State of Vorarlberg together held 95.5% of the shares (the Federal Government 70.1618%, the State 25.3382%). In November 1995, the state of Vorarlberg bought the federal government's share package.

In 2001, as part of the liberalization of the electricity market, Vorarlberger Illwerke took over 97% of the shares in Vorarlberger Kraftwerke (VKW) from the state of Vorarlberg . The two companies appeared under illwerke vkw from 2007 . The company had its headquarters in Bregenz, while the headquarters for the management and administration of the Illwerke power plants and engineering were located in Rodund in the Illwerke Zentrum Montafon (IZM) .

In 2004 the construction of the largest cavern pumped storage power plant in the world, Kopswerk  2 , began. The first machine was put into trial operation in September 2008, and the official opening took place in May 2009. The power plant was built completely into the rock and only the entrance structure is visible from the outside.

On July 2, 2019, following a resolution at the Annual General Meeting (June 13, 2019), the legal merger of Vorarlberger Illwerke AG and Vorarlberger Kraftwerke AG to form illwerke vkw AG . With the entry in the commercial register, the merger became legally effective on July 2, 2019.

Tourism activities of Vorarlberger Illwerke AG

Originally pure power plant operators, the Illwerke were surprised by the tourist attraction of the plants themselves. They developed into one of the most important tourism and leisure operators in southern Vorarlberg and founded the Golm Silvretta Lünersee Tourismus GmbH .

The core of the secondary use is the Silvretta-Hochalpenstraße , originally conceived as a pure construction road, it was opened to public traffic in 1954 as a toll road. As an alternative to the Arlberg Pass, it does not play a role as a transit route, but it is a typical high mountain vantage point. The Tschagguns – Partenen railway line was also operated for local public transport to the Upper Montafon from the war years until 1953.

The company's reservoirs are all attractive excursion destinations in the area and fishing grounds.

Golmerbahn, Matschwitz middle station (around 1960)

Golm Silvretta Lünersee Tourism also operates the ski area on the Golm with the split into three sections one-cable orbit Golm (8-passenger gondola cabins), which also handles the feeder function to the actual ski area and the further Sesseliftanlagen Rätikonbahn (6-seater chairlift), Grüneck (4-seater Chairlift), Aussergolm (4-seater chairlift) and the Hüttenkopfbahn (6-seater chairlift) with integrated photovoltaic system.

A small ski area is located on the Bieler Höhe , but it has extensive slopes thanks to the shuttle bus service and also offers a good ski touring infrastructure.

In addition, an Alpine Coaster system (two-seater sledges on a stainless steel rail route) was built in Latschau to Vandans , as well as the Latschau climbing park and a flying fox system - approx. 800 m flight from the Latschau forest rope park to the mountain station of the AlpinCoaster. This has significantly improved the range of leisure activities, especially for young, active holiday guests, all year round in the Montafon.

At the Vermuntbahn in Partenen , a number of attractions have been created with the Europatreppe 4000 , the Vermunt water adventure tunnel at the Tromenier mountain station, the exhibitions in the Schnausa tunnel and the Vallülasaal in Partenen, and the old lock chamber Trominier technology museum .

As gastronomic facilities, there are the Silvrettasee restaurant and the Silvrettahaus on the Bielerhöhe (at approx. 2000 m altitude) on the Silvrettastausee, the Douglasshütte (with accommodation) on the Lünersee and in the winter the Grüneck restaurant with a sun terrace, winter garden, panorama restaurant and a ski bar available in the Golm ski area.

Like other large power plant operators in the Alpine region, the Illwerke also made a special effort to protect nature and the landscape in order to promote the effectiveness of the technical systems as a motor for tourism in the region. The more recent projects - tourism and power plant technology - were increasingly implemented with as little use of the landscape as possible and in coordination with local interests.


In January 2015, Vorarlberger Illwerke AG and Vorarlberger Kraftwerke AG, together with nine other Vorarlberg companies, founded the “Climate Neutrality Alliance 2025” with the aim of making all of their activities 100% climate neutral by 2025.


  • Klaus Plitzner: The way south! Or is it to the north? From the beginnings of the electricity industry in Vorarlberg to the establishment of the “Vorarlberger Illwerke” up to the 1930s , in: Helmut Maier (Ed.): Electricity industry between environment, technology and politics: aspects from 100 years of RWE history 1898–1998, Freiberg 1999, pp. 89-127.

Web links

Commons : Vorarlberger Illwerke AG  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Significantly less profit for Illwerke / VKW
  2. a b Special exhibition: Montafon 1945–1955. A valley on the move (December 12, 2004 - April 2, 2005) (PDF; 220 kB)
  3. ^ Alois Niederstätter, Elisabeth Fischer: Vorarlberger Illwerke AG . Vorarlberger Illwerke AG, Bregenz 1996, p. 19.
  4. ^ Margarethe Ruff, Vorarlberger Authors Society (ed.): Cheated out of their YOUTH. Bregenz 1996, ISBN 3-900754-19-5 .
  5. ^ Vorarlberger Illwerke Aktiengesellschaft (ed.): Vorarlberger Illwerke AG. Printing: Sedlmayr KG, Dornbirn 1989, (company book with 103 pages in A4)
  6. Montafon Local History Museum Schruns: Special exhibition Montafon 1945-1955
  7. RWE and EVS were entitled and committed to each purchase a third of the energy generated. Tyrol and Vorarlberg (third of the country) were entitled, but not obliged to do so.
  8. ^ Alois Niederstätter, Elisabeth Fischer: Vorarlberger Illwerke AG . Vorarlberger Illwerke AG, Bregenz 1996, p. 7.
  9. ^ Illwerke sport fishing association
  10. Vorarlberg companies found a climate neutrality alliance (January 9, 2015)

Coordinates: 47 ° 29 ′ 16.8 ″  N , 9 ° 44 ′ 10.4 ″  E