2 Billion Euro investment
The promoter is the Asmez consortium grouping together over 1500 Italian townships and whose mission includes helping its associates introduce new technologies, improve management techniques and access European funds. Through ASPEA (Azzeramento sPesa Energetica Associati or Associates for Zeroing Energy Expenses), Asmez called a four-stage European-wide tender inviting private partners to invest in the photovoltaic sector in Italy. Investments on the project should reach some 2 billion euros, said Gennaro Tarallo, who supervises the procedure for Asmez. The plants will be from 2 MW-5 MW each in order to avoid that a single company gains an excessive foothold.
First lot of tender of 101 million Euro
“There has been great interest from abroad, especially from Spain, even though they would want to build bigger plants, not just limited to the 5 MW threshold,” Tarallo said. Through ASPEA, Asmez aims to simplify access of local entities to the incentives provided by the feed-in tariff system, without having to make advance payments to install the actual plants. The first lot of the tender was awarded in September to Rti CIE Costruzioni ed Impianti Europea- GPS Costruzioni e Finanza and to Ingegno Energia, which respectively bid to invest 101 million euro and 100 million euro.
Some 142 municipalities, for 500,000 inhabitants, took part in this lot that will cover annual energy bills of over 15 million euros. Most of the townships involved were from the southern regions of Calabria and Campania, where Asmez is headquartered.
Reduction of risks for municipalities
The deadline for the next lot is Friday October 29th, with the envelopes being opened on November 2nd, while others will be awarded November 15th and November 30th. “If municipalities do not manage to sign up in time this time around, we will likely extend the tender also next year,” said Tarallo. Asmez said that even if the feed-in tariffs give incentives to public bodies, access to financing has proven to be insufficient. “It seems obvious that a local body cannot take on the risk that usually pertains to businesses to start an activity that is surrounded by so much uncertainty, including the timing of the completion of the plant and the connection to the grid that could bring to applying for the contribution beyond the foreseen deadline. The risk of loosing the contribution or obtaining it but in reduced form compared to that expected in the business plan with negative consequences for 20 balance sheets, discourages even the most deserving initiative,” said Asmez in its presentation of ASPEA.
Savings used for energy efficiency measures
Each local body that takes part in the program will declare how much it paid in energy bills in 2009. The photovoltaic plants to be built will be large enough to produce at least 6% more energy than needed to erase energy expenses for the next 20 years. “Part of the proceeds from the feed-in goes to the townships to cover their overall energy expenses while the remaining part stays with the private company,” Tarallo said. “The money municipalities save on energy bills will be used to carry out measures to seek energy efficiency, like updating street public lighting. The idea is to create a virtuous circle so that the township can save money to invest on other things,” Tarallo said.