Italy passes renewable energy legislation

ROME, ITALY - Italy's Council of Ministries approved a legislative decree setting the instruments, mechanisms and incentives, as well as the institutional, financial and legal framework required for the achievement of the 17 quota of renewable energy required in the country by 2020, as established by European Union directive 2009/28/CE.

In general, the decree establishes modifications on the permitting procedures and foresees a new incentives system for renewable sources of energy that begin operations after January 1, 2013. While the legislation makes differences for smaller and larger facilities, the main issue within the decree is the regulation of photovoltaic facilities, which is aimed to limit the construction of these facilities for speculative reasons and to help ensure long-term development in the sector.

The most relevant measures include:

• a new incentives scheme for photovoltaic PV facilities connected to the grid after May 31, 2011. This incentives system will be defined by April 30.

• Photovoltaic facilities with an installed capacity of more than 1 megawatt MW on agricultural lands will be excluded from federal incentives.

• Photovoltaic facilities on agricultural lands with installed capacity less than or equal to 1 MW will be included in the incentives scheme, as long as the area for construction does not exceed 10 of the area owned by the developer.

This restriction vanishes if the lands are idle for more than five years.

The decree is an attempt to bring order to this sector, which exploded last year, moving from 1,142 MW at the end of 2009 to 7,000 MW by the end of 2010. This boom was experienced throughout Europe, with a 115 increase in photovoltaic facilities on the continent, reaching 25 gigawatts of generating capacity. This can be explained by overly generous incentive schemes, forcing the major players in the European photovoltaic market Germany, Spain and France to review and reduce their incentives systems.

In Italy, regional governments also tried to control and regulate renewable energy development in their territories. For example, Sardinia changed the regulation of renewable energy production in March 2010 by banning offshore windfarms, monopolizing the development of onshore windfarms through an ad-hoc state company, and changing the permitting procedures and limiting the installation of solar photovoltaic facilities on farmland. The Northern region of Veneto, which is establishing a new regional energy plan, has blocked all regional authorizations for photovoltaic facilities larger than 0.2 MW on agricultural lands and biomass or biofuel-fired facilities larger than 0.5 MW and 1 MW, respectively, until the approval of the plan.



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