Belt and Road to bring 1 GW of solar to Italy


The first, renewable energy rewards of Italy’s agreement to be part of China’s Belt and Road initiative appear set to arrive in the next three years, after state-owned companies from each nation agreed to develop 1 GW of new solar generation capacity.

At a signing ceremony held in Naples, Chinese state-owned PV cell and module manufacturer Jetion Solar agreed to develop 1 GW of new solar capacity across the Italian regions of Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzo and Marche over the next three years.

Jetion, part of the China National Building Materials Group, announced the deal in a press release which said the total investment would be around €2 billion, with Italian state-owned oil and gas major Eni committing to acquire the capacity from the Chinese developer

With the previous Five Star-Lega administration having made encouraging noises to Beijing in order to attract investment from China’s continent-spanning Belt and Road infrastructure program, Jetion general manager ‘Mr Sun’ – possibly VP Sun Jie – left little doubt about why the deal had been hatched, according to the Jetion press announcement.

Belt and Road

“Rely on the rich experience of international project development and global EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] contracting,” said the Jetion spokesman quoted in the release. “Jetion Solar is confident to deliver high-quality PV projects assets to our customer as planned. This co-operation has great significance of promotion and implementation of the Belt and Road. It will bring local employment [and] boost the economy in [the] regions of Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzo and Marche. We are very proud to play an important role in achieving the development goals of diversified energy structures in Italy.”

The quotes attributed to Eni spokesperson ‘Mr Sarubbi’ hint the recent advent of a new PD-Five Star coalition government has opened the door for renewables development.

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“Renewable energy in Italy is recovering rapidly due to regaining government support,” said Sarubbi, chairman of the Leukos Group described by Jetion as “Eni’s official cooperative consortium”. He added: “Eni, as a leader in the global energy industry, will accelerate the implementation of carbon reduction strategies and increase investment in renewable energy. We look forward to working with Jetion Solar, this will be an important part of Italy’s energy and climate plan.”

Renewables incentives

The previous Italian government in June won permission from the European Commission to disburse up to €5.4 billion in subsidies for solar, onshore wind and hydropower by 2021, in breach of the political bloc’s usual public spending and budgeting constraints on member states.

Jetion stated Italy will need a 158% rise in installed solar capacity, from its current 20 GW to 50 GW in 2030, in order to satisfy the energy and climate plan being proposed by the government this year.

The press release added, fossil fuel giant Eni is aiming to install 1.6 GW of new renewables generation and energy storage capacity by 2022 and 5 GW by 2025.

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