Italy bans ground-mounted solar panels on agricultural land – Montel

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(Montel) The Italian government has approved a ban on the installation of new ground-mounted solar panels on productive farmland following a proposal by the agricultural ministry, it said late on Monday.

In addition, the ban would be extended to existing solar installations in those areas looking to expand, it added in a statement.

This would “put an end to what is a wild installation of ground-mounted photovoltaics,” said agricultural minister Francesco Lollobrigida during a press conference following a cabinet meeting.

Exemptions from this ban comprised solar plants on non-productive agricultural land – such as quarries – solar facilities financed under the recovery and resilience plan framework and agrivoltaic projects – the dual use of land for solar energy production and crops.

Projects featuring ground-mounted solar facilities on farmland already undergoing the authorisation process could also be exempted from the ban, energy minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin told reporters.

However, the move sparked criticism, with lobby group Italia Solare dubbing it a “short-sighted” approach.

“Unnecessary restrictions”
“The government has effectively decided to impose unnecessary restrictions on photovoltaic installations on agricultural land, disregarding commitments already ratified,” said the group’s president Paolo Rocco Viscontini.

“This will cause Italy to suffer a setback such that it could be prevented from reaching its 2030 targets,” renewables developer Lorenzo Bocci told Montel.

“No longer allowing ground-mounted photovoltaic plants on agricultural land but only agrivoltaic units translates into costs increasing by at least 50% more for the same amount of installed power.”

“The development of the photovoltaic sector, which in other European countries is attracting investments and growth, will be hindered in Italy,” added Rocco Viscontini.

“Italia Solare will fight in every forum to prevent the serious damage that this decree will bring to Italians, starting with the increase in [electricity] bills.”

In Italy’s draft update energy and climate plan presented to the European Commission last June, it forecast the installation of 131 GW of renewables by 2030, including 80 GW from solar, 28 GW from wind and 19 GW from hydropower.

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