Solarexpo, the annual event of renewable and photovoltaic energies, took place in Milan last week (April 8th-10th). After 16 seasons, SolarExpo represents the main opportunity to measure the health condition of the Italian PV market after the government decided to reduce the FiT make other unfavourable changes affecting the solar industry. Around 10.100 visitors participated in panel discussions, workshops and exhibition stands. Although the size of Solarexpo has significantly decreased since the golden era of PV subsidies, many operators hope for a bright future and a prompt „rebirth“ for the Italian PV market.
SolarExpo is the annual gathering in Italy for the green industry. Over 3 days, the event attracted operators from 56 countries, new technologies, a rich convention agenda with symposia and workshops (this year over 300 speakers) and the possibility to meet the energy authorities. The core of the event focuses on solar energy but it has expanded to green mobility, smart grids and domestic appliances. As for the PV industry, the event represents the shift for overcoming the difficulties resulting from unfavourable regulations into new areas of business. After last season, when the ratio of new installations was dropping and many operators were forced to close their business, operators now look confident for a prompt rebirth of the industry.
During the last years, the photovoltaic market in the „Bel Paese“ suffered from regulation which undermined the whole industry: subsidies to new installations were stopped, ongoing feed-in tariffs got retroactively reduced („spalma-incentivi“) and PV systems became applicable for municipal real estate tax (IMU). Many operators refer to such measures as an earthquake that undermined the credibility of the Italian market. One year later, over 250 companies and 10.100 operators are looking into new areas of to do business in Italy, one of the pioneering countries for installing MWs without any subsidy schemes. Despite the averse regulations, in 2014, 400MW were installed in Italy, proving that the market is still alive and able to compete with the public utilities. Recently, the International Energy Agency placed Italy as the first country worldwide to produce 7,9% of its annual electricity demand through photovoltaics (followed by Greece and Germany – 2014 Snapshot of Global PV Markets).
How is the PV Market in Italy reacting to the crisis?
According to eLeMeNS, an independent consulting firm that focuses on the energy sector, Italy will be the playground for about 10GW of new installations in the next 5 years. At SolarExpo most of the symposia focused on the regulation for qualifying PV plants as “self consumption”. Self consumption, together with 50% fiscal deduction for the new installation and the 75% components’ price drop for installing a PV system, will be the triggers for boosting the Italian market. According to Luca Zingale, Scientific Director of SolarExpo, the upcoming years will represent a market revolution. It is difficult to estimate whether Italy will experience such a solar driven development. At SolarExpo operators were not questioning authorities for public subsidies but rather for stability in the regulation. Only a transparent communication between operators and authorities will make the Italian PV market shine again.