Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Solar Country Notes
Since the early 1980s, the main thrust of solar energy in Italy has been photovoltaic, the development of which has ranged from research on materials and devices and experimentation for grid and non-grid applications to the dissemination of such technology through various incentive programmes.
Currently, PV electricity is supported via dedicated premium feed-in tariffs with a fixed premium in the range of € 44.5-49.0/MWh according to the plant size for the green value, and via a tariff linked to the market price for the power. Plants up to 20 kW can choose to have the power paid via net-metering or via tariff.
Current applications include small islands electrification, telecom systems, environmental data collection and transmission, isolated spot lighting at bus stops, etc..
According to the IEA-PVPS, 14% of end-2005 PV capacity was off-grid domestic, 19% off-grid non-domestic, 49% grid-connected distributed and 18% grid-connected centralised.
The total glazed area of solar thermal collectors in operation in 2005 was
516 000 m2, giving an output capacity of about 361 MWt.
In November 2003 ENEL (the largest Italian utility) and ENEA (the Italian Agency for New Technology, Energy and Environment) announced their collaboration on the 'Archimede' project. ENEL's existing Priolo Gargallo gas combined-cycle power plant located in Sicily will be expanded with the addition of a solar plant to be constructed alongside. The innovative technology, albeit inspired by the 3rd century BC mathematician, will use parabolic mirrors to concentrate and accumulate the power from the sun during daylight hours. With the use of a new fluid based on low-cost fused salts and capable of allowing high temperatures to be reached, the process will use the thermal energy collected to produce vapour and thus electricity during a 24-hour cycle. It is estimated that there will be a saving of some 12 000 toe per annum and a reduction in the region of 36 000 t/yr of CO2 emissions. The testing period has proved to be successful and at the end of March 2007 it was announced that an accord had been signed between ENEL and ENEA for installation to begin. It is expected that the plant will be operational in 2009.