Italians See Solar Microgeneration Projects As Sound Investment
As Margaret has pointed out here, the benefits of harnessing solar power for an urban environment are many. This WSJ articleprovides an example of the advantages of solar microgeneration from theother side of the world—in Italy, a rapidly expanding solar market withplenty of sun to spare. In order to lessen the pain of high energycosts, Italian households and small companies have begun adoptingrenewable energy microgeneration projects, the most popular of whichare rooftop solar panels and wind turbines. These efforts atsmall-scale, in-house electricity production also have the potential tolift a heavy burden from Italy’s energy infrastructure, which is“severely hampered” by the country’s notorious bureaucracy.
Furthermore, Italy—whose electricity demand is forecast to grow anannual average of 0.6 percent between 2009 and 2013—aims to generate 17percent of its energy from renewable energy by 2020, a goal whosefeasibility some have cast doubts upon. In a country known for itsbureaucratic red tape, which greatly hinders the completion of largepower plants, some have suggested that small-scale utilities may be theway to go. Further adding appeal to microgeneration is its potentialfor increased energy security, no small deal for a country that importsover 80 percent of its energy supplies.
“I’d say about 20% of Italian buildings could be usedfor microgeneration,” said Giovanni Battista Zorzoli of ISES Italia, atechnical-scientific nonprofit association, which organizes courses onrenewable energy. “The incentives are such that families, thanks alsoto bank loans, can easily make such investments.”
And what exactly would incite banks to provide loans so readily?
According to energy research body Institute Osservatoriosull’Industria delle Rinnovabili, “building-integrated” photovoltaicinvestments in Italian buildings could potentially amount to aboutEUR42 billion in the 2009-2020 period. ISES Italia’s Zorzoli estimatesphotovoltaic power could generate about 6% of Italy’s electricity needsin 2020.
The article uses the case of a suburbanite mother with two kids to further illustrate its point.
In 2007, Miriam Di Palma, a married, working mother oftwo teenage girls who lives on the outskirts of Rome, installed 5kilowatts of panels for about EUR37,000, which included some roof work.
She sells the power generated, in excess of her needs, to the gridfor a heavily subsidized price, while buying power back when she needsit by paying the lower usual market rate to her local utility,pocketing the profit. Di Palma receives EUR0.42 per kilowatt-hour whilethe average price of electricity her utility charges is aboutEUR0.20/kWh.
Such investments have what amounts to a state guarantee of a fixedreturn for a fixed period, a degree of security against which banks arevery willing to make loans, experts said.
Granted, Italy is by no means a perfect solar correlation to theUnited States. Different cities in the U.S. can have wildly differentvariations of insolation, and not all tax rebates are created equal.Add to that worries over Italy’s solar sector overheating, and thesituation is not perfect. But it is an example of how solarcan make sense for city-dwellers and suburbanites alike—especially whenthe financial incentives are good.
Search 26k+ Solar Articles
- Glass and Green Building
- How China Will Transform The Energy Industry
- New Project Will Forecast Solar Generation
- In Focus: The Potential of Los Angeles Solar
- Tesla Reports Profit, Stock SKYROCKETS
- SolarCity Raises $500M
- Graphene That Redefines Electric Current
- NextEra Gobbles Up Smart Energy Capital
- Oil Prices and Renewable Energy
- 5 Promising Eco Careers
- In Focus: People Power!
- The EV Cordless Power Vehicle Charging System