Is Italy the next Spain?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

I have become increasingly concerned that Italy could follow the same boom to bust scenario we saw in Spain last year. The Spanish market rocketed past all of the market forecasters forecasts to reach more than 2.5GW of solar power installations. Now I am not so surprised that the cap was put in place and installations in 2009 could actually be below the 500MW limit. A boom to bust cycle that isn’t good for the industry is something Italy could mimic. This also raises the issue of whether elements of the PV industry are self destructive and action by the industry to do something about it to ensure Spain remains an isolated case and not an example other countries will experience.

It was in October, 2008 that I started taking a greater interest in the potential growth rates of the Italian market, prompted by a growing number of PV manufacturers pointing to Italy as an emerging market where these companies expected to grow their market share. Indeed some such as Suntech shocked many of its competitors in December, 2008 when it announced it had already secured 130MW in orders in Italy for 2009, implying more was to come.

By then I had checked various market research firms forecasts for the Italian market and one thing was very clear, those forecasts were too conservative. Taking Suntech’s quoted MW figures and applied to these forecasts, the China based PV producer had taken about a third of the available market for 2009 almost overnight.

Rivals such as Sunpower had already followed business plans and acquired PV installers and distributors in Italy as a base to expand sales in the country, yet had been reluctant to give guidance on the expected sales in Italy. Companies such as Trina Solar had already built a good business in Italy in 2008 while other rivals had started establishing sales operations in the country.

This growing activity set off the alarm bells in my head as it was quickly becoming obvious to me that if the conservative forecasts proved accurate then many companies would be disappointed in 2009 as the market had already been claimed by a few that included Suntech, Trina and Sunpower.

On the other hand such aggressive moves into the Italian market could mean that installations go through the roof and the Italian Government imposes a draconian cap in 2010.

Looking at the two forecasted scenarios recently released by the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA) for the Italian market, the ‘moderate scenario’ projection points to 400MW installed in 2009. The ‘policy-driven’ scenario points to an additional 100MW installed, brings the total to 500MW for the year.

The problem is that a recent report from an Italian agency notes that 338MW of PV capacity was installed in 2008 and that could reach 900MW in 2009. Despite previous industry concerns over bureaucratic bottlenecks that would limit rapid growth in Italy, that concern would seem to have diminished significantly fuelling concern as to what will be the limiting factors on the projected 900MW market turning out to be much more?

As the year progresses we may be able to spot some of the potential bottlenecks such as labour force or credit constraints but we may also find that installations are tracking higher and therefore barriers to growth do not materialise.

Though many companies are banking on Italy filling some of the void left by Spain, I doubt anyone wants to see Italy become the next Spain.

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.

Read Next

August 4, 2021
New investment in renewables reached a record US$174 billion in H1 2021, with renewable energy companies raising 509% more than H1 2020 and investment in solar projects up 9%, according to the latest Renewable Energy Investment Tracker from BloombergNEF
PV Tech Premium
August 4, 2021
The latest installment of PV Tech’s special feature on Europe’s solar renaissance rounds-up the rest of the continent’s key markets, examining the key drivers behind solar growth in Portugal, France and the UK, amongst others.
August 3, 2021
Solar developer Pacifico Energy has started building work on a 121MWdc solar project on the site of a former golf course in Japan, with juwi Shizen Energy hired as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.
August 3, 2021
The Australian state of Victoria has unveiled six grid upgrade projects as part of efforts to unlock new renewables investment.
August 3, 2021
AES Indiana, a subsidiary of power distribution company AES Corporation, is planning to acquire and construct a 250MW PV project paired with a 180MWh energy storage facility in Indiana.
August 3, 2021
The government of Serbia has signed an agreement with US company UGT Renewables to cooperate on the construction of solar and energy storage projects in the Balkan country.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021