Italy to omit solar from new renewable incentives plan

Italy’s industry deputy minister Claudio De Vincenti announced today that the government is planning to halt all solar incentives in the latest decree on renewable energy support schemes.

Speaking at a power conference, De Vincenti told the audience that the government believes there is no need to offer solar plants further support, stating: "The decree on renewable energy incentives for the next three years should be ready by the end of February, but the PV sector won’t be in it."

The decision comes just days after Italy’s electricity transmission grid operator Terna released data showing solar PV generated a record 23.299 GWh of power in 2014, or 7.53% of the country’s entire electricity needs.

This level of PV penetration is the world’s highest, and has increased from 6.6% in 2013. Solar power in Italy has long been an attractive proposition for foreign investors and private equity firms attracted by the generous subsidies. In 2010, solar subsidies stood at just €750 million ($843 million), but soared to €3.8 billion in 2011 and €6.7 billion in 2013.

Such a solar-friendly investment environment pulled in more than €50 billion in solar investment over the past five years, bringing some 17 GW of additional PV capacity over that period.

However, those days of growth appear a thing of the past following today’s announcement and the retroactive FIT cuts enacted last year. Further, there have been rumors that the Italian government is considering levying fees and charges to PV systems this year, intended to cover the costs incurred by GSE – the country’s energy agency – for running the net-metering program and the Conto Energia renewable remuneration scheme.

In 2014, Italy is likely to have added around 700 MW of solar PV capacity in total, according to estimates from IHS.