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Italy’s solar market hits unprecedented boom

5 Jan 2011

The Italian solar market is predicted to witness a doubling of installations in 2011 as global investment flows into the country, according to the latest research.

Market research firm iSuppli said Italy’s photovoltaic (PV) market was going into overdrive as it entered the fourth quarter.

It has forecast that the country will install just shy of 1GW – 975MW of photovoltaic systems in the fourth quarter, which is double that installed in the third quarter.

Installations in the third financial period in 2010 equated to 487MW, which was already a big increase on the 239MW installed in the fourth quarter of 2009.

‘This fourth-quarter surge will cause installations in 2010 to rise to 1.9GW, up 100 per cent from 720 GW in 2009,’ it said in its latest report.

This period of continuous growth of the Italian solar market now sets the stage for another doubling in 2011, with installations rising to 3.9GW.

Dr Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for PV systems at iSuppli, said, ‘The strong fourth-quarter growth represents a breakthrough for Italian PV installations, which until now had been limited to 300 MW or less, with the expansion propelled by installers rushing to take advantage of an Italian government subsidy scheduled to expire soon.’

Those projects finished and connected to the grid by 30 June will also benefit from the second Conto d’energia, the revised version of the country’s feed-in tariff (FIT).

‘True, Italian solar installations will drop at the start of the first quarter of 2011, following the burst of the growth at the end of 2010. But the decline is set to last only weeks, rather than months, with the rate of new installations to rise rapidly again following this period,’ Wicht said. ‘And despite the expected FIT declines, the IRR of Solar investments in Italy still will be higher than anywhere else. As a result, installations in Italy will rise to approximately 1GW per quarter in 2011.’

The report recognised, however, that a potential risk to the market was that the possible reduction to the subsidy may take place earlier than had previously been anticipated.

It said although this was unlikely this would take place before the third quarter of 2011 fears are also compounded due to the possibility that regional governments may look to limit the amount of land used for solar installations.

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