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29/06/2011 | News, Newsletter July 2011
New incentives for solar thermal in Italy: an opportunity for district heating utilities

The recently adopted Italian legislation (No. 28/2011), implementing EC Directive 28/2009, foresees a comprehensive revision of the supporting measures for renewable heat, among which solar thermal. A combination of a feed-in tariff and “White Certificates” is expected.

Following the general trend seen at European level, renewable heat is gaining more and more relevance in the energy scenarios also in Italy. The recently approved National Decree No. 28/2011, adopted as the implementation of the EC Directive on renewables, aims at renovating the incentive scheme for renewable heat, including of course solar thermal (ST).

Two different and complementary supporting measures are introduced through this new piece of legislation: a heat feed-in tariff for small plants and a renewed “White Certificate” mechanism for large plants. The threshold between small and large plants has not been defined yet, but it is likely that it will be around 1 MWth, corresponding to about 1,400 m2 for solar thermal.
The new feed-in tariff, once obtained by the ST plant owner, remains fixed for the whole incentive period, which will be between 5 and 10 years. The details of the tariffs must be established by a special application law, which should be issued before September 2011, since the new incentive will be operating in January 2012.
Regarding the “White Certificates”, the new values for ST will be 2.4 times higher than in the past, thus being much more appealing than before for the potential customers.
Will this new scenario promote also innovative application of ST, like solar district heating (SDH)? The most likely answer is “yes, of course!”. Usually SDH plants have a very large size and, therefore, could fall under the scope of “White Certificates” which, as shown, are much more rentable than in the past. Moreover, since Italy is a newcomer country for SDH, it is possible that the first SDH plants to be built will not be as large as the ones in other EU countries and, therefore, could even profit of the thermal feed-in tariff.

 

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