Denmark’s European Energy breaks ground on 103MW solar project in Italy

Source: Flickr, Floris Oosterveld

Danish renewables developer European Energy has broken ground on a 103MW project in Italy, bringing a utility-scale newcomer to the Southern European state. 

A recent statement from the firm billed the under-construction Troia PV project, set to be operational in early 2020, as Italy's largest to date. 

After steady growth between 2009 and 2012, the Italian PV market was devastated by the phase-out of state subsidies in July 2013. Total installed capacity stalled in the 18GW-19GW region between 2012 and 2018, according to IRENA statistics.

European Energy's new southern Italian project fell victim to industry paralysis. According to a statement by CEO Knud Erik Anderson, the Troia project had “been sitting fallow for seven years” before the firm purchased it in Feburary.

The utility-scale addition finds Italy in the midst of a reboot of its renewable policies, after EU authorities green-lighted in June a scheme to inject €5.4 billion (nearly US$6 billion) into PV, wind and others via contracts for difference-style auctions. 

Over the past twelve months, Shell and Swiss utility Axpo have successfully solicited private PPA agreements for energy from utility-scale Italian solar projects – the latter for 300MW annually from European Energy.

Development costs in Italy are falling dramatically. A review of global cost declines across key PV markets between 2010 and 2018 by IRENA found that Italian utility-scale projects had the second most acute cost drop of any worldwide PV market, at 78%.

European Energy reported €22.4 million (US$24.7 million) profit before tax for the first half of 2019, a sharp increase from the €900,000 (US$990,000) it reported the year prior.

The firm sold six subsidy-era Spanish solar projects with a combined capacity of 10.1MW in the first half of 2019. The sale frees up “significant liquidity” according to Anderson.

It also closed a green bond of €140 million (around US$154 million) at 5.35% interest in June, the proceeds of which will fund new renewables projects.

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