Solar PV sets new record in Italy

Italy’s preliminary electricity demand data released recently by Terna, the country’s leading electricity transmission grid operator, have turned heads.

In the first eight months of the year, 9.68% of Italy’s electricity demand was generated from solar PV plants, Terna reported. Of all renewable energy soruces, solar PV’s success is second only to hydro, which provided 23.4% of Italy’s electricity in the same time period. Wind farms and geothermal power contributed a further 5.8% and 2%, respectively.

Solar PV penetration in the country’s energy mix becomes higher in the summer months, from June to August, when the Mediterranean sun shines its strongest, providing Italy’s 11.94% electricity demand.

In August, solar photovoltaics generated 2,834 GWh of energy — the highest monthly amount of energy generated from PV plants in Italy compared to any prior month. August’s solar PV output provided an impressive 12.66% of Italy’s electricity needs.

The previous monthly output PV record was held in July 2013, when Italy’s solar PV had produced 2,831 GWh, only 3 GWh less than in August this year. Terna reported last year that solar PV output in Italy in July 2013 had hit an astonishing 2,957 GWh, but later lowered it to 2,831 GWh.

Fear and hope in Italy

The Italian energy authority announced in June 2013 the end of feed-in tariff (FIT) payments for all new photovoltaic plants, bringing photovoltaic installation in the country to a stall. The recent imposition of FIT cuts for existing PV installations has filled the renewable energy lobby with new concerns and left the solar PV sector calculating its new levels of income.

A ray of sunshine brightened up the country’s gloomy solar PV sector after the parliament’s decision last month to expand the country’s net metering upper limit from 200 kW to 500 kW. The measure is expected to boost the commercial and industrial rooftop PV segment, although well informed sources say this will depend on the interest rates of banks financing the rooftop projects.