Italy's solar power capacity rises to 796 MW -GSE

Solar panels are seen in a farm near the Sicilian town of Castelbuono, southern Italy, September 28, 2009. REUTERS/Giuseppe Piazza

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s total capacity of the photovoltaic (PV) installations that turn sunlight into power has risen to 795.6 megawatts from 700 MW at the end of November, the state energy management agency GSE’s data showed on Tuesday.

The number of PV installations on stream in Italy, a major solar power market in Europe, rose to 60,963 at present from 56,285 at the end of November, according to GSE’s regularly updated data on its Web site

GSE would publish a consolidated data for 2009 in February which is likely to show the total capacity reaching 900 MW as was previously expected, a GSE spokeswoman said.

Last minute updates of the data on grid connections in December may bring the total 2009 figure close to 1,000 MW, Italy’s PV association GIFI said in a separate statement.

PV installations mushroomed in Italy from about 22 MW in early 2007 after the government launched a new incentive plan that was among the most generous in Europe.

The government has been working on a new incentive scheme because a 1,200 MW cap on capacity to be covered by incentives under the current regulations is expected to be reached next year. It intends to cut incentives to ease the budget burden.

GIFI has proposed the government to raise the cap on incentives to 8,000 MW in the 2011-2015 period and to 15,000 MW until 2020 and improve permitting procedures, it said.

Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova