10 priorities for the development of PV
NOTE TO MINISTER PICHETTO FRATIN ON PRIORITIES FOR PHOTOVOLTAIC DEVELOPMENT
ITALIA SOLARE’s Proposals
ITALIA SOLARE is the only Italian association dedicated solely to photovoltaics, the technology that will cover more than 60 % of Italy’s electricity demand by 2050.
ITALIA SOLARE has 1,177 members (as of June 2023), accounting for 16,600 employees and 26 billion revenue (year 2022).
PV has the technical and economic potential to contribute substantially to the supply of energy at stable and low costs, improve energy security, reduce pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, and create thousands of jobs.
In this note, ITALIA SOLARE presents proposals with reference to 2030 targets, with a view also to longer-term goals.
We believe that the rapid conclusion of the process of identifying suitable areas is essential not only to ensure an orderly deployment of PV, but also for a more efficient development of storage systems and grid infrastructure.
EXTRAORDINARY PLAN FOR THE FULL UTILIZATION OF PHOTOVOLTAIC PRODUCIBILITY
Without development of storage and grid infrastructure, there is a risk that the efforts made will be in vain, severely slowing the deployment of PV systems because they would be underutilized. A speedy implementation of ARERA’s regulations (Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment) on centralized storage is good, but we ask to monitor it to avoid the risk of excessive concentration of storage control.
Current electricity market rules are holding back photovoltaic development, particularly in the South, an area with higher solar and wind energy potential. Due to insufficient grid and storage infrastructure, zonal energy prices are often very low or equal to zero. This discourages PV investors and does not benefit local consumers. This problem, combined with the lack of access to support mechanisms for plants located in agricultural areas, results in the risk that several thousands of MW of already authorized plants will not be built. Therefore, 2030 targets would be unattainable.
PV IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS AND AGRIVOLTAICS
This is a topic that intertwines with several issues, some of which have already been mentioned with regard to suitable areas and the power market. Access to incentives is currently banned for PV in agricultural areas with ground-mounted modules (including contracts for difference). This ban does not apply to “elevated” agrivoltaic systems, i.e. with modules at a minimum height from the ground of 2.1 m in areas intended for cultivation and 1.3 m in areas intended for livestock farming, as provided for by the Ministry of Environment and Energy Security’s Guidelines, which have become the permitting standard also for regions. In the meantime, thousands of MW of PV systems with ground-mounted modules placed in agricultural areas are being authorized (and partly built), under the assumption that the sale of power to the market is sufficient for a return on investment. As mentioned above, this assumption may be contradicted by the lack of infrastructure and by current market rules. Therefore, there is a possibility that only innovative agrivoltaic plants will be built in agricultural areas, to the extent that generous incentives are available to cover the higher costs: these incentives are currently those provided by the NRRP; in the future, national resources should be added, possibly burdening electricity bills. Besides, plants with such “minimum” heights would have a serious impact on the landscape, with the risk of being rejected by local communities.
CONNECTION TO THE POWER GRID
We point out two main problems: 1) excessively long connection times, which are incompatible with the achievement of the targets; and 2) the so-called virtual grid saturation, caused by PV and wind power grid connection applications currently equal to at least 4 times the new renewable power to be implemented by 2030, as indicated by the Ministry in the executive summary of the new Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan. This causes confusion regarding grid developments and unsustainable pressure on national and regional offices in charge of environmental assessments and permitting.
COMPLETE THE FRAMEWORK OF SUPPORT MECHANISMS
PV as a generation technology does not require big incentives, but revenue stability, ensured by contracts for difference, for example.
Support measures, on the other hand, are needed for grid and storage infrastructure, as mentioned above. Likewise, support may be needed for particular categories of PV users or consumers and for some significant applications, to encourage them to face the investment cost, which is the main cost item of PV power.
COMPLETE THE SIMPLIFICATION OF PERMITTING PROCESSES
Many different simplifications of permitting procedures have been introduced in recent years, unfortunately with different rules, derogations, exceptions… and in any case, in our opinion, without a consistent plan. The recent document issued by the Chamber’s Study Service testifies to the confused and fragmented picture that emerges from this approach. We believe that priority should be given to the definition of a consistent and homogeneous framework for permitting, environmental and landscape procedures. We therefore hope that the legislative decree provided for in Article 26 of the Competition Law of 2022 will be finalized soon.
OBLIGATION TO INSTALL PV
Strengthen the existing obligation of PV systems on new buildings or buildings undergoing major renovation, and consider the possibility of gradually introducing an obligation, including incentivized, to install PV systems on the roofs of existing buildings, or to make these roofs available to third parties.
NATIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS
Promote the development of national production chains for PV system components.
Start training programs for PV technicians.