EGP adds 21MW of Italian PV

Enel Green Power has brought 21MW of PV on line in its home market, in what may be some of the last of the generation of utility-scale Italian projects which have helped to fire global solar demand in recent years.

Built in the southern Italian province of Salerno on military land, the two ground-mounted arrays will produce 30 million kWh of electricity per year for EGP, one of the world’s largest integrated renewables developers.

EGP did not disclose how it will be compensated for the electricity generated at the projects, enough to feed the cover the equivalent annual consumption of 15,000 average Italian homes.

However, the announcement comes only a few days before the 6 July expiration of Italy’s fifth and likely final Conto Energia solar incentive scheme, with Conto Energia V scheduled to be shut down after rapidly crashing through its €6.7bn ($8.7bn) budget.

The global PV industry is watching closely to see what happens over the next few years in Italy, which is already described as being at, or very near, grid parity in some regions.

In volume terms, the Italian market is all but certain to slow down considerably in the medium term, while local businesses realign themselves towards a rooftop-dominated self-consumption mindset.

However, over a longer time-frame many markets around the globe will move in that direction, and the experience PV companies gain in the mature Italian market may be critical.

EGP’s two latest PV projects were built using thin-film modules from 3Sun, a joint-venture manufacturer in Sicily backed by EGP, Sharp and STMicroelectronics.

In the eyes of many, the establishment of 3Sun – which began producing in 2011 – was poorly timed, given the ongoing overcapacity of modules.

However, the JV has steadily delivered panels to EGP projects, hauling in more than €30m in revenues last year, and its modules may have a competitive advantage over crystalline-silicon technology in regions like the Middle East and North Africa.