When In Rome: Sidestepping the obstacles of the Italian PV market

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With the photovoltaic market steadily growing throughout the world, key countries like Germany, Spain, and Asia are looking to expand their PV businesses. In hopes of stepping outside their country borders, PV companies have teamed up with businesses in places like the U.S., U.K., and various European nations to keep up with the growth of the market.

A significant up and coming player in the photovoltaic industry is Italy, which has been recognized as a capable leader. International PV companies have tried with sometimes unsuccessful attempts to build a project in Italy, but have found it to be harder than they formerly anticipated.

With the Italian PV market’s feed-in tariff secure up to the end of 2010 and the creation of more photovoltaic plants, Italy has found itself entertaining offers from international PV companies.

Unfortunately for Italy, the proposals are not to sell products to Italy, but rather embark with their own projects on Italian soil; a concept Italy is not keen about. With approximately 90 percent of the modules being imported from Germany and Asia, and Italy still being rather new to the PV industry, a dance of compromise has to be performed so that both the domestic and international parties can get what they want.

Problems that international PV businesses might encounter in Italy include impeded grid connection or regional authorization procedures at a deadlock, reported market participants in a recent survey for the study, “The Italian Photovoltaic Market 2008-Overcoming Obstacles.”

So how does one go about completing a project in Italy without being entangled in red tape?

Anne Gassen, Project Manager of the market study published by EuPD Research with the support of the Italian photovoltaic association Assosolare, had a suggestion, “It is important not to ignore aspects such as mentality and unwritten rules, because it is exactly those things which have a significant influence on the market. An example: Many experts pointed out that before starting a project of a certain size, key local persons should be involved in order to create a good attitude towards the project. Simply going the correct bureaucratic route can be much more difficult. The recipe for success in Italy is a comprehensive understanding not only of the written, but also the unwritten laws, especially local peculiarities.”

So it seems that in business dealings, like family holidays, researching, respecting, and following the local Italian customs will give the international PV company a completed project and Italy the power to still be involved, while coming ever closer to its aspired position as a leading country in the photovoltaic industry.

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