In the run-up to Solar Market Parity Italy we’re sitting down with Alberto Cuter, General Manager of JinkoSolar’s operations in Italy and LATAM. Currently recognized as the world’s leading module supplier, Jinko Solar has solidified itself as a household name in the global PV industry, both through its high-quality solar modules and its own project development activities. With the Italian market in full blossom again, we’re curious to find out what Jinko’s got in store for ‘bella Italia’.
Hello Alberto, nice to have you here! The status of market parity, as shown in Italy, is usually a mix of three things: high electricity prices, high irradiation and low LCOEs. Given that electricity prices and irradiation is usually outside of our control, what is Jinko doing to continuously improve the economics of the projects and thus promote subsidy-free projects? Are there any new innovations on the way?
As you know, module producers did a terrific job reducing the cost (and the price) of the product by more than 90% in just 10 years. I can’t think of any other industry that achieved this result without a strong change in the technology and, most importantly, while continuing to increase the quality and efficiency of the product. In 2010, the maximum power capacity of 72-cell module was 285 Wp. Now we’re reaching levels over 400 Wp.
Jinko has played and is continuing to play an important role. We were the first ones introducing 1500 V modules and, now at Intersolar 2019, we presented our new bifacial module with transparent backsheets, which was awarded ‘most innovative product’ of the exhibition. These modules will increase the energy production, while you can install them as regular modules. It’s having an important impact on LCOE reduction. Jinko is one of the companies in the industry that is investing heavily in R&D. I can’t say much yet, but we’re almost ready to also launch new products at the upcoming SNEC exhibition in Shanghai.
For our readers to know, how much capacity has been supplied by Jinko in Italy? Are you focusing on all areas: utility-scale, C&I and residential?
Jinko has been present in Italy since 2010. Since then, we have delivered around 1 GW of modules in Italy. Our products are basically fit for all types of projects: Utility scale, C&I and residential. Of course, there are some products which are specially designed for utility scale, such as the above mentioned bifacial modules, and other more suited for rooftop applications.
Italy is experiencing a revival after many years. The new national strategy has been published and a new decree is expected soon after negotiations with the European Commission finish. What are your expectations for the new regulatory framework? If you were to focus on one area, what would it be?
Yes, that’s right. According to the SEN 2030 (Strategia Energetica Nazionale – Nactional strategic Energy), Italy has made a strong committment to move from fossil fuels to renewables. NO more coal by 2025; reduction of emissions by 39% vs 1990; €35 billion of new investments in renewables, most of which will go to wind and solar, which have already reach the grid parity. These investments represent around 60 GW of new installations at a rate of about 6 GW per year. So, yes, we are definitely expecting a new era for renewable energy in Italy.
Where? Everywhere! Rooftop residential, C&I, and - to reach this target - of course utility-scale installations will play a large rolen. Now what renewables truly needs is a cut of bureaucracy and simplicfication of the way to get the permission and authorization for projects.
One of the most widely discussed issues in Italy right now is on the use agricultural land for PV development. What is your take on this?
It is a false problem, in my view. We have more than 10 times as much dismissed agricultural land as the area we’ll need to facilitate the power generation we need according to REN 2030. Of course we need to use our resouces optimally and avoid the use good agricultural area.
I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what makes the Italian market unique, taking into account your position as General Manager LATAM & Italy. How has the market changed over the last years, from a FiT model to a merchant/PPA model? What should developers be wary of when starting new projects in Italy?
For the last 5 years, Italy was mainly a residential market. This was due to a lack of regulations for utility-scale projects and good regulations and incentives scheme for residential (tax reduction of 50% in 10 years). Now we have reached grid parity. So the market is finally free to find its own way to do business. There are many new developments looking at merchant models, or PPAs at 10-year terms, etc.
Of course, the rules of the game are the same as in any others country: permitting, authorization, finding the right place (irradiation, grid connection, node available) and finally being able to sign a good PPA.
Nevertheless, there are other important opportunites related to the revamping and repowering of old projects. We are working with an important company, in order to give them the opportunity to revamp their project without new investments from their side.
What can we expect from Jinko in this year? What are you currently working on?
We will continue to work together with our partners, offering the best technology, best quality product and best solutions in order to give our contribution to reach this important goal of renewable energy domination.
Fill in the blank. Solar energy will represent _______ of the global electricity mix by 2030.
Alberto Cuter, along with 20 other experts, will take the stage at Solar Market Parity Italy, the event focused on connecting and empowering the right players in the Italian solar market, which is on the verge of a solar (r)evolution. 200+ attendees - from developers and investors to manufacturers and consultants - will gather in Milan on the 18th of June 2019, to meet and share knowledge and experiences related to the Italian solar PV market.