Italy’s €6 billion PV limit breached; Conto Energia V to launch in August

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The uncertainly engulfing the Italian solar industry has finally been lifted by the Gestore dei Servici Energetici (GSE). The energy board has notified the Autorità per l‘energia elettrica e il gas (AEEG) that the Italian solar PV industry has reached the €6 billion benchmark. This equates to 14,300MW of installed capacity, equivalent to over 400 thousand PV systems a year.

With this announcement, the government is free to launch the contentious Conto Energia V which has led to protests, legislative toing and froing and raised eyebrows from the EU, but is now effective August 27. The previous Bill is expected to remain in place during a transitional stage, with a bi-annual reduction to the FiT.

The new Bill has allocated €500 million per year to renewables with €200 set aside for PV. Conto Energia V is favourable to roof-top arrays, especially those replacing asbestos roofs and contain material produced in Europe.

The government will introduce a simplified procedure to register systems. Systems required to register include plants exceeding 12kW. However, systems smaller than 20kW where the owner is willing to forgo feed-in tariffs for 20% of the power produced are not expected to register and installations on public buildings will not be required to register.

Registration will cost €3 per kW, payable to the GSE. The fee is expected to drop to €2 per kW for larger systems. During operation, the GSE also charges a fee of €0.05 per kilowatt-hour.

Ground-mounted arrays have until September 21, 2012 to finish in order to remain eligible for FiTs. The AEEG could also impose additional costs to ensure grid stability – even for arrays that were only before June 30, 2012.

The Italian PV association, Gruppo Imprese Fotovoltaiche Italiane’s (GIFI) president, Valerio Natalizia, declared Conto Energia V “ironic” considering the administrations drive to revive the economy and improve the state’s budget. He stated that last year the PV market generated €2 billion in taxes to the state.

Natalizia continued, “The imposition of the register, the quota of available resources and the inadequate time management surrounding the introduction of the decree reign in the market making it accessible to only a few, more red tape and uncertainty which could cause a “boomerang” effect. The premature announcement of legislative change has inevitably generated a rush to install, which would then the increase the amount of incentives paid, which effectively nullifies the intentions of the fifth energy bill. The risk is that the law will come into force when the limit of €6 billion has been greatly exceeded.”

“In this context,” concludes Natalizia, “it is important to avoid the collapse of the industry, to resolve all regulatory restrictions in order to liberalize the energy market by giving it a real opportunity to produce and sell electricity on the basis of private contracts. It remains now to  GIFI-ANIE to offer our contribution to implementing simple and effective mechanisms that will be presented to the institutions in the coming weeks with a view to continuing to support the national industry “

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