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Italian Government Stops Incentives for Ground-Mounted PV plants on Agricultural Lands

by Carsten Steinhauer

As part of the liberalisation package adopted on 20 January 2012, the Italian Government has decided to stop incentives for ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) plants on agricultural land.

The previous Government had already introduced limitations to photovoltaic plants located on agricultural land by limiting the incentives to only those not exceeding 1 MWp and on the condition that they did not cover more than 10 per cent of the available land. An exception was made where the land had been abandoned for at least five years. These limitations were set out in paragraphs four, five and six of Article 10 of legislative decree no. 28 of 3 March 2011 (the Renewables Decree), which have now been abolished.

The current Government has now decided to eliminate incentives for all ground-mounted photovoltaic plants on agricultural land. Article 65 of the Liberalisation-Decree (the Decree) provides that the new rules will apply to all new installations, except those for which the request for authorisation was filed before the entry into force of the Decree and provided that operations start within one year from the entry into force of the Decree. The PV plants that do not fall under the application of Article 65 shall, in any case, comply with the limitations under paragraphs four, five and six of Article 10 of legislative decree no. 28 of 3 March 2011.

In turn, the Government has increased incentives for photovoltaic plants installed in greenhouses, by providing that they will receive the full tariff for rooftop PV plants instead of the currently applicable rate, an amount between the tariffs awarded for rooftop and the tariffs for ground-mounted facilities.

The Decree has now entered into force following its publication in the Official Gazette. Parliament has 60 days, as of the publication, to approve and convert the Decree into law. During such period, Parliament may introduce further amendments. It remains to be seen whether Parliament will approve the increase of the incentives for greenhouse PV plants.
 




Italian Register for Large PV Plants Closed for 2012

by Carsten Steinhauer

On January 20, 2012, Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), the publicly-owned company that promotes renewable energy sources in Italy, announced that the budget for the second half of 2012 for large solar photovoltaic (PV) plants has already been used up by excessive demand in 2011. Consequently, there will be no registration procedure for the second half of 2012, and large PV solar plants that have not been registered previously with the GSE will only be eligible for the 2013 feed-in tariff.

The Fourth Italian Feed-In Tariffs system (the so called “Fourth Conto Energia”) established the following budgets for large solar PV plants between June 2011 and December 2012:

  1/06/2011 – 31/12/2011 1st Half 2012 2nd Half 2012

TOTAL

Feed-in Premium Budget 300M 150M 130M 580M Indicative Cumulative Nominal Power 1.200MW 770MW 720MW 2.690MW

In order to ensure the fair distribution of the budgets for 2011–2012, the Fourth Conto Energia introduced a procedure of registration, and subsequent ranking by the GSE of the registered plants for each of the three periods, based on certain priority criteria.

The Fourth Conto Energia affirmed that the budget for the second half of 2012 will be reduced by the excess amount awarded to large PV plants that began operating between June 1 and August, 31, 2011, or registered with the GSE between September 2011 and December 2011. Accordingly, the budget for the second half of 2012 has been reduced to zero, and the GSE will not start the procedure for new registrations.

As a consequence of this development, PV projects that are defined as “large PV plants” that have not obtained a favorable ranking in one of the GSE registers in 2011, or in the first half of 2012, will now only be eligible for the 2013 feed-in tariff. In fact, the GSE has clarified that those PV plants that started operations in 2012 without being ranked in a GSE register will be deemed to have started operations on January 1, 2013, and will therefore obtain the 2013 feed-in tariff for the 20 years starting January 1, 2013.

Unlike the 2012 feed-in premium, the 2013 feed-in tariff will already include the price for the sale of electricity. For, instance, the all-inclusive feed-in tariff for PV plants with nominal peak power above 1 MW will be as follows:

 

PV Plants Installed on Buildings

Other PV Plants

1000<P<5000 kWp

0.227 /kWh

0.205 /kWh

P>5000 kWp

0.218 /kWh

0.199 /kWh

“Small PV plants” (i.e. <1000 kWp on rooftops / ground mounted <200 kWp using net-metering system / placed on buildings or areas owned by the public sector) are not subject to the budget restrictions and will be eligible for the incentive.




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