The international fair opened against a backdrop of positive news for the Italian solar market, with the countrys network agency, GSE, having announced just a few days beforehand that installed photovoltaic capacity in Italy is estimated to be sitting at 10.5 gigawatts (GW).
If GSEs estimates for 2011 are right that 12 GW will be reached – then Italy is set to steal the installed capacity crown away from Germany.
With this in mind, the opening conference at PV Rome focused on the future of Italys industry, particularly in light of the regulatory changes introduced in the fourth Conto Energia.
Gianni Silvestrini, scientific director of the Kyoto Club pointed out that an "important transformation" is occurring in the types of photovoltaic systems being installed, away from large solar parks – formerly the "driving force behind the development of the sector" – towards rooftop systems.
This, he said, is opening up "new and exciting possibilities of development for our industry". He continued, "For Italian companies, aiming at the development of innovative technologies, created to enable the integration of plants in the architecture of buildings is certainly one of the ways to face up to the challenges of a global market with Asian companies and their lower production costs and support policies of their governments."
The potential photovoltaics has in Italys national energy mix was also highlighted by Agostino Re Rebaudengo, neo-president of Aper, the association of renewable energy producers. He specifically said that the cancellation of nuclear plans has "opened new and promising scenarios for the future of renewables and photovoltaics".
"The share of nuclear power must now be spread out over the other two: in this scenario, the aim is to produce – with renewables – about 150 TWh by 2020, therefore satisfying about 50 percent of the demand with clean energy," he explained.
He went on to say this goal was "ambitious" and that obstacles still need to be overcome if it is to be achieved, "for example, the rationalization and speeding up of authorization procedures, and the stability of the incentive regime".
Picking up on the issue of incentives, Gianni Chianetta, president of Assosolare, the national photovoltaic association, stated that there is a "lack of a clear agreed energy strategy". "As an association, we have pointed out more than once some not good aspects of the fourth energy account, such as the creation of a register for large plants, the limit of eight GW for installations on agricultural land … All aspects that must be overcome," he explained.
Looking ahead, Valerio Natalizia, president of ANIE-GIFI said that both innovation and efficiency can "help us to win the challenges of the global market, where competition is ever more fierce".
He added: "But the Italian PV manufacturing chain has already demonstrated in having the strength and the ability to win the game. Obviously, we also need a new approach, not only focussed on the production of modules, but that also takes into consideration all the other components of plants and services connected to their management.
"I am thinking, for example, about electronics applied to PV, a field in which Italy is at the top level, the production of components for systems, which now represent the biggest part of the costs of plants, and services of maintenance and control. Activities that can create wealth and highly technological jobs."
PV Rome is taking place from September 14 to 16 in Rome, Italy. A key theme emerging from the fair seems to be the topic "Made in Europe". A number of solar companies, including Trina and Upsolar, have employed this logo as part of their advertising strategies.