Italy begins loosening permits for large scale renewables


Italy's Council of Ministers authorized six wind power projects with a combined capacity of 418MW last week, in an effort to streamline large-scale renewable energy projects and reduce reliance on gas imports in the coming years.

The authorization process for the six projects has stalled in recent years and the move from the Italian government is in response to a policy change for renewable energy permits.

The Italian cabinet added it took a similar measure on Feb. 18, when the authorizations for two more wind projects totaling 65MW were also streamlined. “From the end of 2021, utility scale renewable energy projects with an aggregate capacity of 1.4 GW were unlocked,” it said in a press release.

At the end of November 2021, Italian high-voltage grid operator, Terna, and Enel Distribuzione, responsible for the low and middle-voltage network, agreed to review grid-connection requests for PV projects with a combined capacity of 90 and 20GW, respectively, which shows the huge interest between investors.

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According to the Italian solar association Italia Solare, however, this impressive pipeline is currently difficult to unlock, as Italy's regulatory framework represents a barrier that makes project development and construction very difficult, if not impossible in some cases.

“What is missing and is urgently needed is the identification of regional targets in order to urgently move on to defining suitable areas,” Italia Solare's president, Paolo Rocco Viscontini told pv magazine in December. “But, without regional targets, which are otherwise known as burden sharing, you can't get anywhere. I also see the need to adopt policies aimed at encouraging storage for commercial and industrial PV, as well as for the utility scale segment. In doing so, we may avoid continuing to say that renewables are not programmable.”

Italy deployed 937MW of new PV systems in 2021 and its cumulative installed solar power reached 22.56GW at the end of December. Italy's National Integrated Plan for Climate and Energy aims for 50GW of solar by 2030.

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