The solar PV industry gathers in Milan

More substantial funding and less bureaucratic procedures are a must to overcome the gap that distances from the rest of Europe Gathered at a round table within the PV Tech Milan 2008, the showroom entirely devoted to solar photovoltaic energy, all the representatives of the Italian manufacturing supply chain confronted each other.

The objective was to trace the lines for the development of the entire sector starting from the current conditions. A snapshot of the market reveals that there are in fact two forces in contrast with one another: one pushing towards the bottom, owing to the threats of the global economic crisis; the other on the rise, thanks to the prospective of the Energy Bill, a norm that currently places Italy among one of the most appealing markets for the production of solar energy.

In 2008, the photovoltaic industry itself grew by 500 percent in the country, with installations reaching 150 MW and a turnover of 800 million eur, which is expected to increase to 1.2 billion next year. If we add to this, that fact that, according to the European Photovoltaic Association, within 2030 10-15 percent of the global electricity demand will be fulfilled by photovoltaic, and that for every KWp installed there is an annual saving of 500 kg of C02, we can understandably acknowledge what is the real economic value and environmental impact of this news.

Following the discussion among solar businessmen in Milan, the presentation of case histories and the exchanges of opinions, what emerged were some unanimously agreed points. First of all the need to access, from the very start, more substantial funding within the entire production process. In fact, currently, in Italy there is only one player with the capacity to supply the prime material, silicon, adequately processed, necessary for the production of the cells first and the modules for the panels afterwards. Therefore, entrepreneurs are required to import from foreign markets - mainly Germany, Unites States and China -, most of the silicon necessary for the initial production of solar PV panels. However, the outlook is expected to change as soon as next year, since according to the Conto Energia there are many new companies opening shop in Italy that will be able to supply polysilicon to the market, bringing down import costs and optimizing the allocation of recourses.

"This way, - said Mr Carlo Cotogni from the X Group -, all the Italian entrepreneurs, prepared to take risks on the production and the supply of raw material, may create a kind of a national lobby independent from the foreign markets, favouring the circulation and the sharing of competencies. It would be to the advantage of the industrialists to cooperate because there would be opportunities for all the investors only if there will be the capability to draw advantage together the potential of a very advantageous norm such as the Conto Energia". According to Mr Cotogni, in fact, due to such hypothesis, within 5-7 years the so much agonised grid parity, that is the coincidence of the cost of kWh photovoltaic with the cost of kWh produced from conventional sources for all the categories of consumers and for all time ranges.

Mr Domenico Sartore of Esteluc shares this point of view. He identified pertinent obstacles that to date have acted as a brake for the growth and development of the solar industry: "At the beginning of the ‘90s Italy was among the leading European countries in the photovoltaic market. Today we have accumulated an enormous gap that we still risk suffering unless it is adequately addressed with concrete actions by all the parties involved. The banks in fact continue to be hesitant and do not offer adequate financial support very easily, the laws are constraint and complex to the point that there is an inevitable slowdown of the most promising initiatives, the excessive bureaucracy generates confusion and the lack of training and information does not help to acquire competence” he added.


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