Greentech Energy Systems has most of its installed capacity in Italy, both in solar plants and wind farms. Owing to the highest incentive tariff system in Europe, Greentech started to invest in the country in 2000, becoming operational in July 2007 with the 21 MW Energia Verde wind farm. Today Greentech has 4 wind farms in the country with a total gross installed capacity of 192 MW. The 99 MW Sardinian wind farm, Monte Grighine, is the second largest wind farm in Italy.
Moreover, Greentech has 15 solar plants in this country with a total installed gross capacity of over 30 MW, mainly under the generous second and third energy accounts.
Both Greentech’s wind and solar energy prices fall under the old incentive systems, determined by a combination of the market price plus a premium.
> For PV plants the premium is a fixed tariff guaranteed for 20 years starting from the day they entered in operation (the fixed tariff is about: 524 €/MWh for the first energy account, 346 for the second energy account, 314 for the third energy account and 180 for the fourth energy account. In each account all the tariffs can vary depending on the day the plant entered in operation)
> For wind farms, the premium is a green certificate which changes every year and is calculated on the basis of the following formula: (180 euro – energy market price) x 0.78. The green certificates are awarded for 12 – 15 years starting from the day the wind farms entered into operation.
Current tariff system
Italy has different Renewable Energy Sources incentive systems for photovoltaic plants and for non-photovoltaic renewable energy sources.
The photovoltaic incentive system has been based on a feed-in tariffs mechanism granted for a fixed period of time until June the 6th 2013. On such date, the Fifth and last Energy Account expired,
having reached the 6.7 billion Euro cap established by the Italian Government as the maximum reachable cap for the incentives distribution. The solar plants installed after this date are no longer
qualified for any incentives. All GES photovoltaic plants benefit from the previous Energy Account (First, second third and fourth) so the reform had no impact on our Company.
Currently, the incentives for the production of electricity using wind farms connected to the electricity grid are set forth in the Ministerial Decree dated 6 July 2012. The new Decree also governs how plants that are already in operation, and subject to incentives provided under the Ministerial Decree dated 18/12/08, will transition, starting in 2016, from the green certificates mechanism to the new incentive mechanisms. The Ministerial Decree dated 6 July 2012 governs the incentives for electricity produced by plants fuelled by renewable sources, other than photovoltaic solar plants, having output of at least 1 kW. The incentives apply to new plants, entirely rebuilt/reconstructed plants, reactivated plants and plants on which upgrading/strengthening works or renovation works have been performed, which enter into operation on or after 1 January 2013. The new incentive system also introduces annual allotments of power eligible for incentives, for each year from 2013 through 2015, sub-divided by type of source and plant and also by modality of access to the incentives (Auctions/competitive bidding procedures; Registries for construction works, full reconstruction, reactivation, upgrading and hybrids; Registries for renovations). These decrees do not affect Greentech plants already in operation which are still under the green certificate regime. Nevertheless, their impact will be assessed in developing the future pipeline in Italy.
New regulatory changes in the renewable energy sector since 2013.
On 19 December 2013, the AEEG (Autorità per l’Energia Elettrica e il Gas) published the annual resolution “AEEG Resolution 618/2013” which came into force on 1 January 2014. The resolution has decreased the amount of minimum guaranteed prices (“minimi garantiti”) applicable to renewable energy plants with a capacity of upto 1 MW which benefit from the mandatory purchase regime* (“ritiro dedicato”). The minimum granted price is now set at 38.5 €/MWh for PV plants and 48.4 €/MWh for wind farms. Due to historical price trends, payment by the GSE of minimum guaranteed prices has always been advantageous for producers, because it is usually higher than the average hourly zone prices. Under the new regime, this trend will be reversed.
On 24 December 2013, a new decree, Destination Italy Decree came into force, becoming law 22 February 2014. The Destination Italy Decree provides that, starting on 1 January 2014, the minimum guaranteed prices applied to plants benefitting from the incentives, shall be equal to the relevant applicable hourly zone prices. The new law affects only photovoltaic plants up to 1 MW benefitting from the Conto Energia incentive schemes, excluding the small PV plants up to 100 kW and hydro plants up to 500 kW. The Management estimates that the impact of this change on GES’ small PV assets will be in a range of -2%/-5% of their total revenues.
On 8 January 2014, the Tax Authority (Agenzia delle Entrate) specified that the tax amortization rate for photovoltaic plants is set at 4% instead of 5%.
With regards to the imbalance cost, the Italian Authority re-introduced last October such cost even though it had been rejected in the first instance by the administrative court. Appeals against the administrative court ruling are currently pending. Greentech will continue to enter the imbalance cost on its accounts based on specific POYRY study.
On 11th August 2014, the new Law no. 116/2014 enacts new provisions on feed-in-tariffs for photovoltaic and other renewables sources plants, in order to reduce the electricity bills for small and medium enterprises.
The remodulation of feed-in-tariffs for photovoltaic plants with a capacity above 200 kW provides that: starting from 1st January 2015, the feed-in-tariffs will be paid on the basis of the following three options, to be selected and communicated by the owner of the plant to GSE within 30th November 2014.
a) The so-called “spalma incentivi” procedure. The current feed-in-tariffs will be extended from the current 20 years to a period of 24 years (starting from the grid connection date), and reduced by a percentage from 25% to 17%, depending on the length of the remaining incentive period relating to the specific PV plant. The oldest is the plant, the highest the cut.
b) The fixed reduction of feed-in-tariffs with no extension of the original 20-year incentive period. The percentage of reduction will be:
- 6% for plants with nominal capacity with nominal capacity above 200 kW and up to 500kW;
- 7% for plants with nominal capacity with nominal capacity above 500 kW and up to 900kW; and
- 8% for plants with nominal capacity above 900 kW.
c) The variable remodulation of feed-in-tariffs. The current feed-in-tariffs granted will be reduced for an initial period in a certain percentage and increased, of same amount, at a later stage. The feed-in-tariffs will be granted for the remaining life period of the plant (still calculated on the 20 year period). The aim of such option is to have annual savings of euro 600 million in the period 2015-2019. The percentage of decrease/increase and the relevant periods, it will be dispensed in a specific decree to be issued by the Ministry of Economic Development by October 2014.
The new Law also provides for an additional option to be applied for any renewable power sources, benefiting from long-term feed-in-tariffs. Owners can sell up to 80% of their expected future feed-in-tariffs to a third investor, to be selected among European leading financial operators, through the participation at competitive tenders which will be won by those which will offer the highest discount rate on the expected income. The entry into force of such new option is conditioned to the positive assessment by the Ministry of Economics and Finance of the availability of the necessary State funds considering the undertakings assumed by the State at European level.
Greentech’s Management chose the fixed reduction option, which reduces the FiT by 6-8% depending on the plants capacity, for the remaining incentive period.
The Company has started an arbitration procedure under the Energy Charter Treaty against the Republic of Italy in order to claim damages generated by the changes in the renewable energy framework.