We had expected that the cumulative installed PV capacity in Italy would have reached 1,000 MW in 2009. Nevertheless, this threshold was surpassed and the country generated approximately 1,150 MW, thanks to more than 700 MW installed last year.
In addition, the new international market situation is leading us to rise our 1,000 MW expectation for 2010. Module prices declined last year and this trend is supposed to continue in 2010 as well. After the 10% feed-in-tariffs cut at the beginning of January, the German Government is planning to cut incentives by 16% starting from August, which will make a major impact on the world scene. It would therefore be reasonable to expect solar installations to rise by 50% in Italy this year (1,500 MW), also considering a possible acceleration in the second half of the year due to the reductions envisaged for 2011.

We will express our opinion about the new feed-in tariff law (conto energia) as soon as a final text is issued. On the whole, the current draft seems to be reasonable, except a few inconsistencies and the introduction of limits that will inevitably be exceeded. The proposed cuts for solar incentives, which range between 8% and 22%, could have been even bigger considering the increase in the permitted amount of other grants and the price trend. In fact, it is important for such financial support to be consistent with an annual level of installations of the order of 1.5-2 GW and with a power generation target of 15-20 GW by 2020.

The draft legislation includes a very positive element concerning the promotion of building-integrated PV systems, which may lead to original aesthetic solutions and reduce the exposure of the Italian industry to international competition.

Italy is therefore strengthening its leading role in the world PV industry as regards installations and is catching up on production, too. The next few years will be crucial in determining whether the Country manages to improve solar research and carve out a niche in the international scene.

Gianni Silvestrini
(scientific director of QualEnergia)