Italian solar incentives coming

ROME, ITALY - Italy's government aims to complete a much-awaited decree on new incentives for the booming solar energy sector soon, Stefano Saglia, undersecretary at the industry ministry, said.

The government, which has decided to scrap the existing generous production incentives for solar sector from June, has been drafting a new support scheme amid heated debate in the industry and investor concerns about the sustainability of their business.

The decree will outline a transitional period lasting until the end of this year while the new rules, modeled on Germany's support scheme, will come in force from 2012, Saglia told reporters on the sidelines of a parliamentary hearing.

Italy's biggest solar industry body GIFI and the country's largest renewable energy lobby APER have been favorable to the so-called German model, under which incentives are automatically reduced once installed capacity reaches a certain amount.

Italy, one of the world's fastest growing solar markets, has attracted investors ranging from families to major banks and investment funds with generous incentives that, the government says, have become too heavy a burden for consumers.

Italy has drawn the world's biggest makers of photovoltaic panels that turn sunlight into power, such as China's Suntech Power Holdings Co, Trina, Yingli Green Energy and U.S. firm First Solar.

Italy can install more than 20,000 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity by 2016 — enough to cover 10 percent of national power needs — if it adopts a German-style support scheme, GIFI said in a statement.

GIFI, a key party in talks with the government on new incentives, said it has proposed a transitional regime for the rest of 2011 with monthly cuts in feed-in-tariffs — a key incentive — starting from October.

In a sign of an alignment of the industry position with the government plans, GIFI has also proposed the tariffs be reduced on an annual basis, under a German model, from 2012.


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