Italy could double its solar PV plant capacity in the next three years, said Giuseppe Farinato, new Business Development Manager for Italy at PI Berlin, a technical advisor for PV plants based in Germany. “Currently there are around 21 GW of photovoltaic plants in operation. The estimate that 40 GW could be reached in the next three years seems reasonable.”
Farinato said that between mid-2019 and 2020, operators submitted applications to build new PV plants with an aggregate capacity of over 10 GW. According to him, the Italian PV market registered a “strong interest” from national and international operators for the development of large size market parity plants, mainly connected to the High Voltage grid (i.e. 150-380 kV).
He also mentioned the key role of smaller plants: “Other operators, hoping for a smoother and more agile process, have focused on developing smaller plants above one MW, but connected to the Medium Voltage grid (i.e. 15-30 kV),” he told pv magazine.
Farinato, who sees in the so-called “super bonus” for building renovation projects another reason for the likely boom, expects growth to slow down after 2025. “By 2030, PV installed in Italy could be around 50-55 GW in total, including the current 21.6 GW in operation.” The 110% tax break is being offered to building renovations and energy re-qualification projects, which may also include the installation of a rooftop PV system, and is an income tax (IRPEF) rebate.
According to Farinato, Italy does not only possess ideal irradiation, but also favorable wind conditions, which allow the cooling of solar modules, reducing losses due to the thermal effect. This is the case for Sicily, Sardinia, and also the Viterbo province, which is becoming a solar energy hub due to the presence of several operational large-scale PV plants and an increasing number of projects under development.
From a technical perspective, the Business Development Manager sees investors choosing mostly single-axis trackers. On the other hand, no clear preference can be registered in terms of inverters. For modules, the engineer expects the national market to prefer monocrystalline products. “The trend for the future seems to be clear,” he said. “As we know from the countless warranty claims in the past, the quality of modules can be variable, so in my opinion, the only way to limit this risk is to use independent quality assurance consisting of audits and supervision.”
According to him, the most frequent problems with PV systems in Italy are related to the effects generated by the quality of modules, such as potential induced degradation (PID), hot spots, micro-cracks, and chalking. Apart from these issues related to the production process, other issues can arise because of poor maintenance and installation. “An example of this is a PV plant deployed in industrial or mining environments where other oxide deposits on the glass reduce the efficiency of the modules,” he said.
Limited ventilation is another recurring problem in Italy, “especially in the summer months.”
“We are seeing more and more European players investing in solar development across Italy,” Steven Xuereb, PI Berlin’s Director of Sales and Project Delivery, told pv magazine. “The existing number of operational PV plants in Italy is only second to Germany – there are a lot of older plants that are looking to be repowered in the coming years.”