Nearly 1,500 people gathered in front of the Italian Parliament in Piazza Montecitorio in Rome yesterday vehemently protesting against the government’s new incentive programme: Conto Energia V. Memc Mirano led the crowd of citizens, various energy and environmental associations and employees of the renewable sector to converge on the square shouting slogans like “Fools, fools, that’s enough, go home” and “400 workers laid off”.

Other associations present included wind energy association Anev, manufacturers association Aper, Assoenergie Future, Assosolare Committee, Greenpeace, Kyoto Club, environmental group Legambiente, WWF, trade unions Fiom CGIL, CISL Fim and Uilm and transport group No-Tav.

The new legislation, replacing Conto Energia IV, will be introducing a register for PV plants over 12kW. These installations will need to be registered with the Gestore dei Servizi Energetici SpA (GSE). To obtain funding, companies will be required to apply to the GSE – registration opens on June 30, with subsequent dates expected to be March 31 and September 30 each year. The GSE charges a fee of €150 for inquiries in addition to €80 – 2,200 depending on the size of the solar system.

Italy’s largest energy company Enel’s president Paolo Andrea Colombo said, "The reduction of incentives for photovoltaics is a result of bad planning. In 2011 incentives towards the industry totalled €6 billion however in 2030 it is estimated that the cost could rise to €130 billion. "

Fulvio Conti, the CEO of Enel, said that it is right to make these amendments, but hopes that incentives for renewable energy resources can change for the better, to promote sustainable development of other energy sectors, in addition to the already widely promising PV industry.

WWF also released a statement announcing, “The incentives for renewable energy must be maintained and modulated on the need to cut (until complete elimination) of CO2 emissions and to develop the economy of the future, i.e. the green economy, in Italy, certainly not to plug the leaks in a distorted energy system based on fossil fuels."

Italian PV Association has confirmed that the fifth bill should take no earlier than October 1, 2012. The association is asking for legislation without registers but with a system that will increase the amount of installed power allowing for a natural decrease of incentives.

Valerio Natalizia, president of GIFI-ANIE states, "Our proposal is twofold - to encourage a gradual dependence on incentives and prepare the way for a real long-term industrial development of the sector.”

During a press conference, GIFI-ANIE put forward ideas and proposals for the consolidation of the Italian photovoltaic sector after incentives. "We have identified some non-monetary methods that will allow the industry to prosper. We propose an exemption for all PV buildings and a tax credit for households and firms that produce solar energy and other tools that go in the direction of full liberalization of the electricity market and competition-free incentives.”

Claudio Andrea Gemme, ANIE President said, “The role of renewable energy technology has an increasingly significant importance for a positive national energy strategy. In 2011, only renewable power met 24% of national needs, representing a significant step forward toward greater independence from foreign supplies and the complete decarbonization of the energy sector."

Supermoney NEWS quoted the environment minister Corrado Clini as attempting to reassure the renewable industry, “If you were to give the green light to Conto Energia V withought the appropriate amendments, it will increase the cost of electricity and become a burden on a country already suffering from recession where thousands of people have lost their jobs.” However, according to ECOO, the economic development minister Corrado Passera is proving to be an obstacle.

ECOO appears to be in agreement with minister Clini: “The most important concern was the preservation of jobs. This scheme seeks to adjust the incentives in order to encourage development and production in Italy. The intention is to create real competition between renewables and conventional energy system”.

The government is to meet with representatives of the regional governments on April 24 to discuss the incentive scheme. The Conference plans to review the decree on May 8.