Lightsource BP has brought its Italian development pipeline to 1.2GW with the purchase of a 78MW project in Sicily.
The renewables giant has acquired the project from EGI Sicily through a co-development agreement, and will begin construction in 2022 with an aim of bringing it online by the following year. It has also filed a “comprehensive” PAUR planning permit for the project, and will work with EGI to bring it to a construction-ready phase.
Lightsource BP, oil and gas major BP’s renewable energy business, has taken steps to significantly grow its footprint in the European solar market in the past two years, adding 1.2GW to its Italian pipeline and more than 2GW in Spain since 2019. Earlier this week, the energy company added another 845MW to its development pipeline in Spain by acquiring a project portfolio from local developer Iberia Solar, having already bought a 1.06GW Spanish portfolio in January. It now has a 2.25GW pipeline in Spain, and plans for projects across six regions in Italy, including 100MW in Sicily and 11 utility-scale systems in southern Italy with a total 350MW capacity.
Although known for being a fragmented market, Italy has become a lucrative hotspot for the solar sector. A report from LevelTen Energy published last month found that it was the top European market for power purchase agreements (PPAs), accounting for 31.7% of offers from developers. Danish developer European Energy also managed to secure €96.5 million (US$116.44 million) in funding for Italy’s largest solar park, which has a combined capacity of 121.5MW split across three farms.
The country was hit particularly hard by COVID-19 fallout last year, with Italy’s lockdown making wholesale power prices volatile and lowering overall power demand.
However, Lightsource BP has continued to establish a strong project pipeline in southern Europe, with a view to becoming a dominant player in the energy sector when its Italian projects come online in the next two to three years. In a statement from the company regarding its new Sicilian portfolio, Lightsource said it would “continue to expand” in Italy over the coming months, focusing on central and northern regions.
Giovanni Mascari, Head of Business Development Italy at Lightsource BP said the developer’s latest acquisition “further cements the key role Italy plays in our European growth strategy”.
“Creating a 1.2GW pipeline in just 2 years across a fragmented energy market like Italy showcases our commitment to becoming one of the top solar players in the country”, he said.
Lightsource BP is not the only power company setting its sights on the Mediterranean island. French independent power producer (IPP) Qair is also trying to obtain permits for around 500MW of solar projects in south-eastern Sicily, and like BP’s renewables arm, hopes to start construction next year.