The PV sector in Italy is going through a new phase of growth and development in line with the process of decarbonisation and increase of renewable sources expected by 2030, with targets established by the new RED II Directive (32% of RES compared with the Gross Final Consumption). The Italian Government has also recently sent to the European Commission the proposal of the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), a document containing the targets and necessary tools to undertake the energy transition path in Italy. An important starting point according to Elettricità Futura, the main Italian association representing the companies operating in the electricity sector, which will allow the Italian industrial system to set up its development plans in a clear and well-defined medium-term framework.
In order to reach the 2030 target for electric RES (55.4% of gross final electricity consumption covered by renewable energy, compared to 34.1% in 2017 in Italy), PV and wind power will play a crucial role according to the Italian NECP, through the installation of photovoltaic systems firstly on buildings, sheds, car parks, service areas, but also on unproductive or unused agricultural areas. Today, the Italian electricity system has been able to absorb the exponential growth of the number of plants under conditions of system adequacy and network security, achieving important objectives in terms of total power in operation (approximately 20 GW), number of installations (over 822,000) and electricity produced (23 TWh). Since the end of the incentive program called “Conto Energia” (feed-in tariff based), the pace of development of PV installations has significantly slowed down with a value of about 400MW/year, mainly linked to small-to-medium size plants for self-consumption.
Looking at the future, PV will be one of the key pillars of the national energy transition according to the NECP, providing 74.5 TWh of electricity produced by about 51 GW of PV plants (according to Elettricità Futura, such objective could be an underestimate with respect to the forecast on average operating hours of the PV plants). This will require a strong technical and economic assessment to bring the PV growth rate back to adequate levels, as well as respecting sustainability principles and ensuring the safety for the whole system.
It will be necessary to adopt instruments and policies that will efficiently drive the improvement of this source, through appropriate policy actions - such as the prompt enactment of the decree regulating the support of RES in the coming years (called “Decreto FER”) - and the definition of adequate market rules encompassing measures that will allow full and responsible integration of RES, such as the reduction of timing between programming and grid injection, the extension of the opportunity of aggregation among plants and between sectors, the participation of the RES to the Dispatching Services Market (“MSD” in Italy) and the promotion of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts.