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Italy aims to fifty-fold the capacity of photovoltaic installations

Italy plans to boost capacity of its photovoltaic installations turning sunlight into power- to 16,000 megawatts (MW) in 2020 from about 280 MW now, on the back of generous government incentives.


And industry body GIFI, together with Italy’s state power management agency GSE, have recently released the following key facts about the sector:

* Italy is Europe’s third-biggest PV power producer after Germany and Spain, but with a total installed capacity of about 270-280 MW at the end of 2008, the country makes less than one percent of its power at PV facilities. Italy’s current installed capacity is dwarfed by about 3,300 MW installed in Spain and 5,300 MW in Germany by the end of 2008, according to estimates by Emerging Energy Research (EER)
* In February 2007, the Italian government approved new incentives for the PV sector, including the feed-in tariff which guarantees operators up to 0.49 euros ($0.63) per kilowatt hour of produced power for 20 years. The incentives for projects to be approved in 2009 vary from 0.353 euros per kW/h to 0.480euros per kW/h, depending on installations’ type and capacity
* The current incentive scheme puts a 1,200 MW cap on capacity to be covered by incentives; this limit is expected to be reached in 2010-2012, according to various estimates. Once the 1,200 MW cap is reached, incentives will be extended for another 14 months under the current scheme; the government is yet to decide whether to introduce new incentives after
* The current incentive scheme extended benefits to big-scale installations; it has given a boost to industrial projects with capacity of 1 MW and above, and attracted big investors, such as utilities, banks and investment funds
* Households, the main drivers of PV energy growth in Italy before 2007, get additional tax breaks if they put PV panels on roofs. Families and small and medium-size companies still account for the lion’s share of PV power makers. It costs a family about 18,000-20,000 euros to install enough PV panels to cover its needs. The investment is usually repaid in 8-10 years
* In 2008 alone, the number of PV installations in Italy jumped to about 25,000 from 6,200 installations at the start of last year, when their total capacity stood at 60 MW. About 2,500 PV installations with a total capacity of 22 MW operated in Italy before June 2007 when the new incentives kicked in. The first incentive scheme was introduced in 2005