Italy: The wait for the next Conto Energia

28. March 2012 | Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Shamsiah Ali-Oettinger/Sandra Enkhardt

The fourth Conto Energia may be replaced by a fifth Conto Energia this spring/summer, or so some investors speculate. Whether the fifth Conto really gets implemented, however, and the reprecussions for solar subsidies, remain open questions.

Jefferies have cautioned investors not to believe that a fifth Conto Energia is coming.

Analysts Jefferies, however, have released an update stating that they believe that the Italian market will be no more than two gigawatts in 2012 and sequentially lower in 2013. Italy has an installed PV base of 15 GW which amounts to €5.6 billion annually.The annual limit of €6 to 7 billion will remain probably and Jefferies says that as such, the Italian market may be limited to under two GW, mostly on rooftops. 

Jefferies have also cautioned investors not to believe that a fifth Conto Energia is coming. Averaldo Farri from the Italian Photovoltaic Industry Association GIFI has also said that what is believed to be the fifth Conto draft is merely a draft proposal from one of the many industry organizations.

At the end of January, the Italian government announced that its energy regulator, GSE, will not open a register for large-scale photovoltaic plants in the second half of 2012 and the transition period for solar installations on agricultural land will be shortened. This caused massive shock amongst investors. 

How bad times are for solar farms in Italy is confirmed by Svenja Bartels, partner at the law firm Rödl & Partner in Padua, Italy. It is confirmed that ground-mounted installations on agricultural land will be subjected to huge limitations as of April. As originally stated, feed-in tariffs are to be only given when the installation occupied no more than 10% of the total land area and its capacity was not more than one MW. Exceptions are to be made for fallow land, but it is unclear how evidence could be provided in such a case, Bartels explained. Additionally, a planning permission should have been received before March, 29, 2011.

Bartels added that over the weekend the rules were officially released. There is a transition period for systems that do not comply with the regulations. The photovoltaic installations have 60 days to connect to the grid in order to receive FITs. After this period, only photovoltaic plants that comply with the above-mentioned conditions will be subsidised. However, even then, these plants will only be subsidised until September this year. Thereafter, they will no longer be entitled to FITs. Only solar installations on military land, should they be also classified as arable, will be excluded from these conditions, said Bartels.


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