The truth and consequences of Italy’s PV surge

Initial Figures out of Italy’s state agency for energy services, Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), has come out with preliminary 2010 PV installation numbers-but there’s roughly 4GW of applications in the pipeline and it’s unclear where those eventual projects (if realized) would be put on the official books.

Initial Figures out of Italy’s state agency for energy services, Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), has come out with preliminary 2010 PV installation numbers-but there’s roughly 4GW of applications in the pipeline and it’s unclear where those eventual projects (if realized) would be put on the official books.

Initially the GSE said cumulative applications for PV systems reached 7GW by the end of 2010, implying 5.8GW of new capacity, explains IMS Research’s Ash Sharma. But apparently there’s a lot of uncertainty about how much of those applications are for projects that have been completed, or ones yet to even begin. A domestic lack of module and inverter supplies would make a 5.8GW total impossible, he says, and some suppliers have been submitting applications for grid-connection of projects that aren’t even finished construction-some even without modules-just so they can squeak in with higher tariffs.

Here’s what we think we know now: “The GSE knows there were at least 1.85GW installed,” Sharma says,”but [they] also have 40,000 applications to connect to the grid which could total a further 4GW.” Checks with Italian suppliers indicate “they feel 3.5GW is the reality, but this won’t be confirmed for some months,” he said. (For its part, IMS had already estimated ≥3.5GW installs in 2010 for Italy, with an “upper-case” estimate of 4GW. That’s far higher than other market estimates; iSuppli, for example, initially calculated just 1.9GW for Italy.)

Whatever the final number, the GSE’s numbers point to much higher-than-expected Italian PV installs-and that will have consequences. “PV capacity growth in Italy is now well ahead of the government’s intended roadmap and may now lead to an early intervention to curb growth in this over-heating market,” Sharma says. That could lead to a Germany-in-2010 boom as developers race to get projects completed before the hammer drops.

“It looks like Italy is going to be the next Spain,” Sharma said.- J.M.

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