Italy, a GW photovoltaic market in 2014 and beyond


In 2013 Italy installed 1.45 GW of PV, of which about 305 MW was not supported by the feed-in tariff, which expired last summer. Thanks to a tax credit and to grid-parity installations, in 2014 and until 2020 the country will install roughly 1 GW per year, according to Politecnico di Milano Energy & Strategy Group's Solar Energy Report.


In 2013, Italy installed 1.45 GW of PV, of which about 305 MW was not supported by incentive tariffs, bringing the accumulated power to almost 18 GW. Thanks to the residential sector, encouraged by a tax credit, the market is surviving after the end of the feed-in tariff policy, while the segment of commercial and industrial systems in grid-parity, i.e. those installed without any incentives and based on self-consumption, is also growing.

In 2013, as resulting from the most recent Solar Energy Report of the Energy & Strategy Group of the Politecnico di Milano University, there has been an installation volume without incentive tariffs which, some time ago, seemed impossible. About 67% of these systems have taken avail of the tax credit reserved for domestic systems (50% of the expense over 10 years), but the first important signs of vitality are also arriving from the pure grid-parity installations. Respectively, 12.8%, 12.2% and 8% of the new power installed without incentives regarded the commercial segment (20-200 kW), big solar power plants (> 1 MW) and industrial-sized installations (200-1000 MW) and had no tax benefit and no feed-in tariff.

The residential sector has proven to be the real ‘hard core’ of the Italian market, with more power installed in 2013 than in 2010. In fact, the most critical situation is in the industrial segment: -47% compared to 2012. The problem, apart from the difficulty in obtaining credit, is that these systems cannot use the net-metering system called Scambio sul Posto (reserved for systems below 200 kW), which allow for the production not consumed to be directly fed into the grid, and so they are profitable only in the case of very high levels of self-consumption. The segment which have resisted best is the the one of big plants, above one MW, above all thanks to the register lists of IV and V of the feed-in tariff programme Conto Energia and the start-up of systems excluded from the registers.

For 2014, apart from 577 MW of systems already benefiting from the feed-in tariff which must be started up by the end of May or they will lose the right to the incentives, the report forecasts for Italy a market of about 1 GW.

About half will come from the residential sector, thanks to the tax credit which, up to December, will cover 50% of the expense, to then reduce to 40% as of 2015. About 40% of the market will be composed of commercial and industrial systems in grid-parity, which will aim at self-consumption rates of near 80%.

In view of the incidence that the small systems will have, the market is expected to be very fragmented, with a decisive role being played by the many very small sale and installation firms operating throughout the country, through which all the operators in the sector will have to pass in order to distribute their own products and services.

However, EPC and System Integrators will play a key role in the commercial and industrial-sized installations, especially downstream of the potential spread of the SEU models, which allow a producer to sell the energy to a customer without going through the grid, but rather producing it directly at his home. These types of systems will acquire greater weight in the period 2015-2020, hence the market for Italy is forecast to remain at about 1 GW a year.