Italy’s 2010 PV installations surpass expectations

Gesore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE) added that data is still coming in for last year and that total newly installed capacity for 2010 could reach 3,000 MWs from 150,000 systems – something that IMS Research reported last week, despite more conservative estimates from other analysts that just one GW was installed.

According to reports, in the fourth quarter of 2010 alone, the country installed approximately 975 MWs worth of PV systems, thus doubling the 487 MWs seen in the third quarter. In comparison, in 2009, Italy installed 711 MWs of PV, while 2008 and 2007 saw 340 MWs and 60 MWs of newly installed capacity respectively.

In comparison, the U.S., with a population five times the size of Italy, installed significantly less PV. Although there are no official statistics available on solar installations in the country, industry sources estimate that as much as 800 MWs and possibly up to 900 MWs of PV were installed in 2010. If true, it appears that Italy, with 60 million inhabitants, installed three times more PV last year than the entire U.S. with its population of 330 million. In the last three years alone, the country installed 1,000 MWs more PV capacity than that installed in the U.S. during the past 30 years.

Italy’s rapid development of PV has been driven by its system of feed-in tariffs – Conto Energia – which pays for every kilowatt-hour generated by solar panels whether owned by homeowners, small businesses, or the Vatican. Under Italian conditions, 3,000 MWs of PV is capable of generating between three TWh per year to four TWh per year, equivalent to approximately one percent of the country’s electricity consumption.

* Click here to see the official GSE report, in Italian, for Italy’s installation data.