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Italy: Senate Approves Draft Revision of Restrictions to PV Plants on Agricultural Ground

On 1 March 2012, the Italian Senate has approved the draft for the conversion into law (the conversion) of Decree no. 1/2012, the Liberalisation Decree. The draft still requires approval from the Chamber of Deputies - which must be granted by 24 March at the latest - and will then be published in the Official Gazette before entering into force.

The draft for the conversion provides a number of modifications to Article 65 of the Liberalisation Decree, which had introduced a stop on the feed-in tariff for newly-installed ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) plants on agricultural land.

The stop has been confirmed, but an exemption is now made for i) PV plants located in areas owned or leased by the Italian military and ii) PV plants that were authorised previously and will commence operations within 180 days of the entrance into force of the conversion. “These plants” remain nevertheless subject to the restrictions introduced previously by the Renewables Decree, dated 28 March 2011, pursuant to which, PV plants located on agricultural land must not exceed 1 MW, nor cover more than 10 per cent of the available land, and must be at least 2 km from PV plants on land belonging to the same owner. It is not fully clear if the term “these plants” is meant to refer only to the previously authorised PV plants or also to those located in military areas. Pursuant to a literal interpretation of the provision, the restrictions should apply to both cases - but it would appear that the legislature's intention was different. Either way, the restrictions do not apply if the land has been abandoned for at least five years.

As was to be expected, the retrospective cut in tariff for previously-authorised PV plants benefiting from a safe harbour provision under the Renewables Decree has been abolished. Instead, the safe harbour has been extended by a further 60 days to compensate for the uncertainty during the period from the enactment of the Liberalisation Decree to its modified conversion into law. On the other hand, the conversion also abolishes the increase of the feed-in tariff for PV plants located on greenhouses, as introduced by the Liberalisation Decree.

In summary, by applying Article 65 of the Liberalisation Decree, as amended by the conversion in its latest draft, ground-mounted PV plants located on agricultural land will have access to the feed-in tariff as outlined overleaf.

 

Entitlement to Feed-in Tariff for PV Plants Ground-Mounted on Agricultural Land

Agricultural land belonging to the Italian military

Any other agricultural land

Irrespective of date of authorisation or grid connection

Authorisation before the entrance into force of the conversion

Authorisation granted after the entrance into force of the conversion

Grid connected within 180 days of entrance into force of the conversion

Grid connected 180 days after entrance into force of the conversion

1.

Agricultural land that has been abandoned for at least five years

YES

YES

NO

NO

2.

i) Output up to 1 MW, and

ii) Keeping a distance of 2 km from other projects on land belonging to the same land owner; and

iii) Covering not more than 10 per cent of the agricultural land available to the project owner

YES

YES

NO

NO

3.

Neither 1 nor 2 above apply

NO (but debatable)

NO

NO

NO

© 2020 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 86

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