Italian photovoltaic market will see 3 GW of new capacity

Gert Gremes has been the president of GIFI (Italian PV Industry Association) since 2006 and CEO of Tecnospot, a company distributing PV systems and materials in Europe and the USA, since 1997. GIFI is the most representative PV industry association in Italy, comprising of around 125 companies (and growing). It is part of the ANIE Federation–Confindustria (Italian Electrical and Electronic Industry Federation). Now that GIFI have secured the legislation for the next 3 years, their short-term objective is proper integration of PV within the technology-mix needed to achieve the 2020 binding EU targets.

What is your forecast for the Italian PV market in 2010? (in terms of MW/year of new installed power), and how does that compare to last year?

I am sure that in 2010 the Italian PV market will once more rank in second place worldwide in terms of newly installed capacity. Recently, the Government approved a resolution allowing all PV plants to be granted the 2010 tariffs if installed by 12/31/2010 and connected to the grid by 06/30/2011. Compared to 2009, this means that the annual PV market in 2010 is more than likely to double and reach a figure close to 1.5 GWp.

What will happen to the feed-in tariffs in 2011, and how might this affect market demand next year?

2011 will see a gradual reduction to the FiT in three stages every 4 months; this will be by 5-25% for roof top installations and by 5-27% for ground-mounted systems. This reduction is in line with the costs trend for PV components. Therefore, I believe that the impact on next year’s market will be limited and that the main challenge will come from the three FiT value changes, which might jeopardize a steady growth. So far, the overall market has responded very well to the publication of the Conto Energia 2011 on the OJ.

Will the newly introduced 3 GW cap pose a limit to market growth? What do you expect to happen in 2012?

The 3 GWp cap is mostly a virtual limit. In fact, if the cap is reached before 12/31/2013, a so-called ‘grace period’ will come into play. The grace period varies between 14 months for private owners and 24 months for public owners (such as municipalities). The grace period allows all PV plants installed and connected to the grid by 12/31/2013 to be granted with the FiT provided by the legislation in force.

What trends do you see in the Italian market in terms of most used technology (thin-film or c-Si) and market segments (residential, commercial, and power plants)?

Concerning the technology used in the Italian market, I see roughly the same pattern as in many other European countries with one difference: from 2011, there will be incentives for CPV. In terms of market segments, roof top installations (both residential and commercial) will continue to drive the market. At the same time, the power plants will play an important role for the next three years. However, in the long term, I see the BIPV as being the dominant segment.

Will the administrative processes remain the biggest challenges in 2011? And will regional differences determine and limit market growth?

The bureaucratic burden linked to the licensing and grid-connection procedures will still be a challenge in 2011. However, the long-awaited National Guidelines for the ‘Autorizzazione Unica’ are scheduled to be published in the OJ within the next few weeks. Three months after their actual publication, the Guidelines will have to be adopted by all regions as a matter of course. Therefore, I expect a 2011 in which differences will be eliminated, thus allowing the market to grow equally in all the regions.

What are current turnkey PV system prices for residential systems in Italy? How much have prices come down compared to a year or two ago?

Prices went from 6-7,000 €/KWp to 3.5-4,500 €/KWp.

What trends can you see with respect to development of the Italian PV industry versus the use of products from Asia? Can Italian module manufacturers compete with their Chinese counterparts?

PV does not only involve module manufacturing, and Italy’s industry represents a clear example of this. According to official company press releases, the manufacture in Italy of around 1.4 GWp of inverters has been scheduled for 2010. With regard to modules, the figures are much lower: 450 MWp. However, it is worth noting that there are around 40 module manufacturers in Italy. Most of them have limited production capacity (few Mws), and the reference market is that of regional/local installers for which they can shape ad hoc solutions.

What are the biggest challenges and, conversely, the biggest opportunities in your market?

Challenges: legislative stability, the bureaucratic burden on licensing, and the procedures for connection to the grid.
Opportunities: strengthening the national industry, valorization of the Italian design for BIPV solutions.

How close will Italy be to grid parity in the retail market when the current 3 GW of new installations are achieved? And what is the forecast for grid energy prices in the present decade?

At GIFI, we are not very keen on talking about grid parity. This is why there is, as yet, no clearly or widely accepted definition concerning it. In a liberalized electricity market, where prices change depending on geographical area, the time of day, and the type of customer, calculations of grid parity may be extremely challenging. On top of that, all energy sources in Italy are subsidized. Consequently, a comprehensive understanding of grid parity should take this into account as well.

What is your forecast in terms of MW/year of new installations in Italy for 2011-2013?

Within the next three years, at least 3 GWp of new capacity will be connected to the national grid: 1 GWp/year as an average. Of course, this represents the cap set by the legislation in force from 01/01/2011 to 12/31/2013. However, considering the latest trends, this cap might be filled by H1 2013. Afterward, thanks to the grace period, anything from 500 to 1000 MWp might be added to the grid.

Gert Gremes will be one of the high-level speakers at the Fourth Global Demand Conference on September 6-7 in Valencia, Spain, during the week of the PVSEC. For more information on the Fourth Global Demand Conference, please visit

www.globaldemandconference.com