In a country which often generates adverse publicity as a result of its fluctuating economy and ever-changing political system, one area of consistently good news lies with its renewables industry, which is seen as one of the most up-and-coming in the world. In fact, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.
investments in photovoltaics in southern Italy would next year start to compete with electricity from the national power grid.
Thanks to generous subsidies and almost continuous sunshine, particularly in the southern tip of the country, Italy is expected to triple PV capacity from its current 450MW to an estimated 1,200 – 1,300MW by the end of 2010. And there is much excitement that grid parity is highly likely to be achieved.
“Italy is the first large-scale market where it will happen … It is certainly going to be next year,” Anton Milner, chief executive of the world’s biggest maker of solar cells, Q-Cells, told a recent conference.
Italy’s residential segment of the PV market – the main driver of growth so far – will be the first to reach grid parity, followed by commercial consumers, mostly supermarkets which put solar panels on their roofs in 2012. Industrial-size PV segment appears likely to catch up around 2015 mostly due to an expected increase in costs of gas-fired power generation, which accounts for the largest share of all electricity produced in Italy.