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Italy Approves One in Six Solar Projects Seeking Permits

Italy’s renewable-energy regulator approved 507 commercial and utility-scale solar parks, or about one in every six projects seeking permits for the first half of next year, as spending limits curb market growth.

Projects with 682 megawatts in total capacity qualified for feed-in tariffs, or premium rates for solar power, after applying to the country’s second registry for solar parks, the Gestore Servizi Energetici said today on its website. More than half of this capacity has already been built and connected, the data show.

A further 2,548 projects weren’t approved because of a 150 million-euro ($196 million) spending cap on subsidies for the period, according to the regulator.

Italy, the largest solar market after Germany, reduced subsidies and set up a registry system in May to limit spending after high rates and falling panel prices led to runaway growth. Almost 12,000 megawatts have been connected to the country’s grid, compared with only 3,500 megawatts at the end of 2010, GSE data show.

A total of 831 solar projects with a combined capacity of 1,050 megawatts were approved in July as the initial registry allotted 300 million euros in tariffs for the remainder of 2011. A third registry is planned to allocate 130 million euros for projects in the second half of 2012.

Spending Cap

“It is likely that there won’t be any budget left to open a third registry,” Federico Brucciani, a spokesman for the Gruppo Imprese Fotovoltaiche Italiane lobbying body, said by phone. “The law sets a limit of 6 to 7 billion euros in total spending for solar feed-in tariffs and we expect this will be reached by June next year.”

The spending cap affects rooftop projects larger than 1 megawatt and ground-mounted projects of more than 0.2 megawatt, as well as smaller installations on the ground without net metering.

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