Large scale PV business grows bigger in Italy


The construction of large scale PV plants in Italy has become more difficult in recent years due to a regulatory framework that makes it difficult to secure approvals from regional and national authorities. Despite these constraints, the Italian large scale PV segment has never come to a halt and several projects, PPAs, and project acquisitions were announced in recent years and months.

This week, two more projects were announced and one of them, planned for unspecified areas in the southern region of Sicily, is being planned on an unprecedented scale for the Italian market and is poised to become the country's largest solar power plant when completed.

The 700 MW solar park is being planned by Germany-based power company Steag and German independent investment and asset manager KGAL. “The plant is located in various places in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani,” a Steag spokesperson told pv magazine. “The construction will start in the third quarter of 2021 and the plant will be grid-connected during autumn 2022.”

The company did not say if the project has completed the approval process but specified that the plant will not be deployed on agricultural land. The facility, which was originally planned to have a capacity of 440 MW, is expected to generate 1,400 GWh every year.

The second solar park announced this week is a 78 MW project that U.K.-based solar developer Lightsource BP acquired from Sicily-based EGI for an undisclosed sum.

“The company will work in partnership with EGI to bring the project to ready-to-build status, having recently filed for ‘PAUR', a comprehensive permit granting authorization on environmental and planning matters,” the U.K. company said. “Lightsource BP will then continue to progress the project to financial close and begin construction in 2022, with an expectation for the site to become operational in 2023.”

Lightsource said the new project will raise the capacity of its PV project pipeline in Italy to 1.2 GW. “The sites in this geographically balanced portfolio have been carefully chosen with specific attention to their impact on surrounding areas, incorporating environmental mitigation strategies to ensure local support,” the company stated.

No details were provided for either project, in terms of electricity sales. With plants of this scale, the combination of bilateral PPAs and the sale of power on the spot market is a likely solution.

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