Exploring the Unseen: ETIA Students' Exclusive Look Inside AKW Zwentendorf

A visit to AKW Zwentendorf, Austria’s only nuclear power station that was built but never activated, offering students a unique educational experience.

Group Foto Excursion Zwentendorf

The MSc Environmental Technology and International Affairs (ETIA) program at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, öffnet eine externe URL in einem neuen Fenster in collaboration with TU Wien offers a cutting-edge curriculum designed to equip students with a profound understanding of today's environmental challenges. A key component of this program involves integrating theoretical knowledge with practical, real-world experiences.

A prime example of this dynamic approach was a recent visit to AKW Zwentendorf, an intriguing site that holds lessons on both the potential and the pitfalls of nuclear energy.


AKW Zwentendorf represents a unique chapter in the history of nuclear power. Completed in 1978, this power station never operated due to a public referendum that shifted Austria's energy policies towards non-nuclear sources. The facility has since stood as a monument to the nuclear ambitions of the past, making it an ideal educational site for students of environmental technology and policy.

View into the reactor pressure vessel of Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant

View into the reactor pressure vessel of Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant

Pre-Tour Preparation

Prior to visiting Zwentendorf, ETIA students engaged in a series of lectures at TU Wien Academy for Continuing Education, designed to provide them with a foundation in nuclear energy principles, safety protocols, and the socio-political dynamics that influence energy technology adoption. These sessions were critical in preparing students to fully engage with the site, transforming them from passive visitors to active, informed participants.

MSc Environmental Technology & International Affairs lecture

The Tour Experience

Guided by experts from EVN, the Austrian energy company, students explored the untouched facilities of Zwentendorf. They delved into the control rooms still equipped with 1970s technology, stood face-to-face with the nuclear reactor itself, and discussed the engineering and safety measures that dominate the nuclear energy debate.

Old computer system inside the control panel of the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant

Old computer system inside the control panel of the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant.

During the tour, ETIA students applied their freshly acquired knowledge, analyzing the plant’s design and discussing alternative scenarios had the plant become operational. This hands-on experience allowed them to bridge the gap between theoretical studies and practical application, a key outcome for educational tours in technical fields.

Implications for Energy Policy and Technology

The visit to Zwentendorf served as a real-time case study on the complexities of energy policy, the technological challenges of nuclear power, and the broader implications for renewable energy technologies. It provided students with a nuanced understanding of the potential shifts in energy strategy within the context of global environmental and political pressures.


As the world increasingly turns towards sustainable energy solutions, the lessons learned from Zwentendorf are more relevant than ever. This tour not only reinforced the theoretical components of the ETIA curriculum but also highlighted the importance of learning from the past while innovating for a sustainable future.

For more information, please visit our MSc program in Environmental Technologies & International Affairs program page​​​​​​​ or attend our next information session.

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