The Italian photovoltaic Conto Energia: how long can it last?


The GSE counter has been updated for the fourth Conto Energia (feed-in tariff system) and is now counting the cost for the fifth: 350-370 million left until the incentives come to an end. How long will the incentives last? went to find out.


The GSE photovoltaic incentives counter has reached € 6.33 billion. Which leaves about 370 million before the ceiling of 6.7 billion of accumulated annual expense is reached. 30 days after reaching that ceiling, the fifth feed-in tariff system, which came into effect on 27 August, will come to an end and will possibly also mark the end of photovoltaic subsidies in Italy. When will that day actually come?

It depends on how fast the remaining budget is consumed, of course, but 21 million has already been earmarked for those large systems registered in time and already installed but yet to be made operational. Even if it is likely that some of these will never actually be started up.

The estimates acquired by vary. For Valerio Natalizia, chairman of GIFI, one of the Italian photovoltaic associations, the feed-in tariff “will not last beyond March-April 2013”. According to our scientific director, Gianni Silvestrini, the fifth feed-in tariff, “calculating the 30 day term after the 6.7 billion threshold has been reached, will end by May-June”. And Giovanni Simoni, chairman of Assosolare, another association in the sector, envisages a short life for the incentives: “The opinions from our members”, he wrote to, “vary between six months and one year. Personally, I don’t think there will be another register.” For Marco Pigni of APER, the fifth feed-in tariff will end “between May and August 2013”. Arturo Lorenzoni of Padua University pessimistically predicts: “I don’t think the fifth Conto Energia will see the new year.”

That forecast, however, is not shared by Joel Zunato, an analyst at the consultancy company, eLeMeNS. Of the 370 million remaining, 140 million will go to large systems on the first register (which closed on 18 September). Therefore, for the fifth feed-in tariff to end before the end of the year, the systems exempt from registering will have to consume the remaining 230 million which, according to Zunato, although possible is improbable.

These off-register systems (under 12 kW or under 50 kW if replacing asbestos roofing, as well as special categories such as those integrated with innovative features, concentration systems and those for public administrations) are different. Estimates from eLeMeNS show, for the first six-month term, an expenditure of 60 million for small systems, 15 for innovative integrated systems and 20-25 for public administration systems.

There will be a second six-month term,” Zunato reassures us, “even though the space for registered systems might have halved given that about 60 million of the 120 million available to the second register will be taken by small systems. I do believe, however, that the 350-360 million available now will be completely used in this second term and reaching a third term is unlikely. The forecast, therefore, is a year or just under.”