Italy closes first PV register

Under Italy’s latest renewable energy law, the Conto Energia V, photovoltaic projects over 12 kW are required to register, in order to obtain a FIT.

The country’s power authority, GSE has now closed the register for the first half of this year, which had €140 million available, and will publish the project applications successful in their quest for a tariff on October 8, reports New Energy projects.

Exempt from the register are photovoltaic systems up to 50 kW, if they replace an asbestos roof, are integrated systems with innovative applications, use concentrator technology, or are realized in the public sector, up to a maximum funding limit of €50 million. Meanwhile, plants between 12 and 20 kW are also exempt, if the operators voluntarily forego a fifth of the FIT.

A second register had been planned, with €120 million available for the second half year; and 80 million for all subsequent registers, providing there is still enough funds in Italy’s solar incentive coffers. However, it is now uncertain if enough funds will even be available for the second register.

At the border

Overall, the Italian government has limited the subsidies available under the Conto Energia V to €700 million. The previous Conto Energia expired when it reached its funding limit of €6 billion. However, in the transition period, further plants were connected to the grid and will, as such, count towards the latest Conto Energia.

According to GSE’s website counter, around half of the total €700 million funding available has already been consumed, with approximately €523,000 having been allocated. As such, it appears little more funds are available, with the total cost of solar subsidies in Italy sitting at around €6.333 billion.

Once the €6.7 billion limit is reached, the government will completely stop solar subsidies. Based on more optimistic calculations, the end of subsidies will arrive, at the latest, by the end of 2014, states Andreas Lutz from New Energy Projects.

However, he points out that there are still many photovoltaic systems, which will be connected to the grid, but which are not obliged to register. And, since they also count towards the total €6.7 billion total, the funding limit is expected to be reached much sooner.

This analysis is consistent with other experts. Carlo Zucchino, president of Solectric srl., for instance, believes the limit will be rapidly reached. Meanwhile, analyst Dirk Morbitzer already warned in the summer of an emergency stop in the Italian photovoltaic market, when the limit is reached. At the time, he said the only way to avoid this, and create investor security, is for the government to quickly decide how the solar subsidies are to be succeeded.