Solar boom risks


The race to the implementation of photovoltaic systems caused by the extension of incentives in 2010 should be checked, but this is the signal that italian tariffs are too high compared to the decline in module prices. Now we must act intelligently to avoid shocks to the sector. The editorial by Gianni Silvestrini.


The photovoltaic bubble referred to by the Gse requires some serious consideration. The figures reported are absolutely incredible: apparently, almost 6,000 MW were installed last year, including 55,000 additional requests for 4,000 MW, which were officially installed within December 31th. These figures, though, clash with the module and inverter sales estimates provided by the main companies. We therefore applaud the Gse’s decision to carry out careful inspections, also using satellite mapping.

Whatever the final data, this acceleration is due to the Italian parliament’s amendment, passed with the government’s approval, to extend the validity of 2010 incentives to all plants installed within December 31th. This caused a mad race, given the modest cuts announced for the first four months of 2011, which also involved many sly foxes who made false declarations about the end of installation works. Besides criminal aspects, these plants will be installed using the incentives provided this year.

As we wait for the actual final figure regarding the power installed in 2010, there is an underlying issue to discuss. We said and wrote several times that Italian incentives were too high. Some PV associations made a wrong move as they tried to make incentives soar. A far-sighted vision should have fostered a quick reduction in tariffs, considering the fall in module prices (see graph below – Source: Solarbuzz).

In Germany, companies and the government have agreed on additional cuts to be made in 2010 and 2011, so as to make sure that the race went on.

Now we need to move intelligently to avoid repercussions, as happened in Spain with the solar market crash, and encourage a rapid achievement of grid parity, that is when the cost of PV generation is lower than the electricity bill.
Most of all, we will have to insist for solar power research to be seriously funded and coordinated, and the creation of companies in the renewable sector facilitated, in the spirit of the Industria 2015 programme, which has been reduced and set aside by the current Italian government.

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