28 September 2011


Foreign Investment Slows In Italy, While Investment In Retail Grows

For large investors, Italy will become an increasingly less attractive market, while interest grows instead for new markets like South America, South Africa, the Sunbelt and Australia. However, it is the small roof systems which are in a growth phase and, over the next two years, will become increasingly more interesting. These predictions are made by SolarPlaza, the global platform dedicated to photovoltaics, which is organizing the conference "The Solar Future: Italy" to be held in Milan on October 6 and 7 of this year.

"Photovoltaics in Italy” explained Michele Appendino, President and CEO of Solar Ventures, and one of the speakers at the SolarPlaza conference “will subsist instead on large volume in the small roof systems retail sector, which will be little affected by the severe restrictions and procedures imposed by the latest ordinance. The 4th Conto Energia greatly restricts the possibilities for development of large systems. In the long term, and after the transition, it will also be possible to develop plants of 1MWp on agricultural land, but only under the conditions dictated by the Decreto Romani, which will notably limit the diffusion of such plants. In general, however, all new opportunities will have to take into account the saturated electrical network, another reason to curb the development of the sector until the issue is resolved."

Regarding the prospects for those who still want to invest in Italy, Michele Appendino states: "The sectors that are still attractive are fragmented and difficult to enter: we’re talking about roofs, which usually present insurmountable technical and/or structural difficulties, not to mention the challenge of bankability."

As for investors’ reactions to the uncertainties in Italy, Appendino explained that "the strongest and most organized investors are exploring the possibility of bypassing the transitional period for large plants so they can build without waiting periods or limitations. Clearly the prospect of returns is much lower considering the all-inclusive rates expected for 2013. Many other investors are completely abandoning the country in order to dedicate their resources to more competitive and interesting emerging markets."

The role of banks will be the focus of the speech held by Giovanni Borlenghi, head of the service supply chains and facilitated credit of Cariparma, and a speaker at the conference organized by SolarPlaza. According to Borlenghi: "If, in the course of 2010 and the first half of 2011, the industry had the strong growth we all know about, it must also be owing to the strong financial support from the banking system." And the numbers bear this out. "Recent data” explains Giovanni Borlenghi “indicate a value of 20 billion Euros for the PV systems installed in Italy in 2010; 18% of this amount (3.6 billion) was financed through Leasing, and at least 70% of the remaining 16.4 billion was financed directly by the banks. It is true, however, that the continuing uncertainties of the regulatory framework make analysis of project bankability more complex, and often put into question even the operations already approved."

According to Borlenghi, "The 4th Conto Energia has established some fundamental principles regarding system characteristics, as well as  future incentives, in the hope that with time the regulatory system will find stability and certainty; the process for GSE registration is certainly likely to create delays in the investigative phase, but also in the granting of financing; likewise, the time needed to make the actual connections must be certain in order to support the credibility of project business plans. The adoption of the implementation ordinances of Legislative Decree 28/2011, which was initially scheduled for September but which will undoubtedly be postponed, will become fundamental to the development of the sector.”

In conclusion, Borlenghi renews the confidence the banks have in the market, adding that "we believe in the entire renewable energy sector and we are aware of the role that financial institutions will play over the next ten years in regards to the financial support of  investments, through the innovation of products and financial services, and through strengthening our alliance with the companies and institutions.”

The future economic and financial prospects of the Italian photovoltaic industry will be tackled at the conference "The Solar Future: Italy" in Milan on October 6 and 7 at Nhow Hotel. For more information visit:

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