Milan fair to put world biggest solar plant on roof

MILAN Tue Jul 7, 2009 3:06pm EDT

A solar panel glistens under the sun in Ota, northwest of Tokyo October 28, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A solar panel glistens under the sun in Ota, northwest of Tokyo October 28, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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MILAN (Reuters) - The Milan trade fair said on Tuesday it is commissioning the world's biggest rooftop photovoltaic power installation covering some 270,000 square meters.

"We have had seven offers from general contractors to build the plant and we'll very soon trim that down to five. The winning bid will be the one that offers us the highest rental," said Ferruccio Ferranti, CEO of Sviluppo Sistema Fiera, a unit of the Milan fair group.

Under the deal, the winning bidder will build the plant at a cost that Ferranti estimates at around 70-80 million euros. It will pay the Milan fair a rental fee in return for which it will be able to market the power generated.

The plant, which will have a peak installed capacity of at least 18 megawatts, is larger than the biggest existing rooftop solar plant at the General Motors building in Spain's Zaragoza with peak capacity of 12 MW, Ferranti said.

After 20 years the plant will become the property of the Milan Trade Fair Group whose listed arm is Fiera Milano SpA.

Italy introduced an incentive scheme in 2007 for solar power that guarantees operators up to 0.49 euros per kilowatt hour produced for 20 years.

Ferranti said it was too early to say if Milan fair would use the power produced for its own purposes. He declined to give the names of the bidding companies.

The bidding process will begin around July 8 and a winner announced in September. "We expect the plant to be completed by the summer of 2010," Ferranti said.

BOOMING SOLAR

In another sign that investors are piling into Italy's solar energy sector, two Italian companies, Fabric Energy and Alpalux Energy, said this week they will invest 15 million euros to build a solar park in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, hit by a powerful earthquake in April.

Work on the project, which will include a 2 MW field plant and a research center, was expected to start by the end of this year and last two years, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

About 40,000 photovoltaic (PV) installations were on stream in Italy at the end of June with a total capacity of slightly above 500 MW, the state-run power management agency GSE said in its latest update of Italy's PV capacity.

Out of the total, about 37,000 were small installations with capacity of less than 20 kilowatt, while only eight PV power stations had a capacity above 1 MW, GSE said.

Italian renewable power company TerniEnergia said in a separate statement on Tuesday it has completed work on eight new PV plants for customers for over 6 MW of peak capacity in the second quarter.

(additional reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova)

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