What you need to know about installing solar panels on your home in Italy

Solar panels are an increasingly popular option for those renovating homes in Italy.
Solar panels are an increasingly popular option for those renovating homes in Italy. Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
Solar power is an increasingly popular choice in Italy, and the government is offering incentives to install solar panels in homes. Here's what you need to know if you're considering investing in photovoltaic panels for your own property.

Italian households and businesses are turning to solar energy more and more, and the country now ranks top worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar panels according to new research.

The number of photovoltaic systems in Italy have increased by more than tenfold over the last decade – and growing numbers of Italians are considering installing their own solar-powered energy, according to market surveys.

As solar energy becomes more widely available in Italy, even stores such as IKEA now sell solar panels.

Part of the boost is due to Europe’s climate goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 2030, according to research by the Eurac Research Institute for Renewable Energies.

Italy also has its own National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate 2030 (Piano Nazionale Integrato per l’Energia e il Clima 2030 or PNIEC), which is focused on decarbonisation, energy efficiency and security and the internal energy market.

Some 40,000 solar panel systems had been installed in Italy by the end of last year – but 3 million are said to be needed over the next decade to keep pace with climate change targets and the consequent energy source transitions.

As Italy has announced further price rises to gas and electricity bills from October, solar-powered energy could also be one way to counter these surging costs felt across the country and Europe. 

But are they worth investing in and what are the costs and savings involved? Here’s a look at what to expect.

What’s the cost of installing solar panels in Italy?

There are a multitude of options on the market and many combinations of products for a 3 kW photovoltaic system (standard household power in Italy).

As a general rule, the cost of a 3 kW photovoltaic system varies between €5,500 and €8,500, according to energy news reports.

A worker installs solar panels on a roof.
A worker installs solar panels on a roof. Photo: Bill Mead on Unsplash

These prices refer to the average cost of the photovoltaic system, including design, installation, paperwork and service.

This size of solar-powered system should suffice for a family of 3-4 people, producing around 3,500kWh per year, which roughly equates to the amount of electricity a family would use annually.

Costs can vary depending on the type of system you opt for too, such as the traditional version or those that are hooked up to the grid with back-up batteries.

READ ALSO: How and where to find your dream renovation property in Italy

A traditional 3 kW photovoltaic system is cheaper but doesn’t have any energy storage systems. This means that the excess energy produced cannot be used, but can still be sold to the national energy distribution system, in exchange for deductions on your energy bill.

This type of 3 kW photovoltaic system costs around €5,200 euros, plus VAT (10%), according to estimates for 2021.

A 3 kW photovoltaic system with storage is more expensive than a conventional system, as it is equipped with an intelligent on-grid system for storing energy in powerful lithium batteries.

These types of solar panel systems can run to over €12,000 plus VAT.

From an economic point of view, this is certainly a bigger commitment, but you do get a lot of power for your buck –  the storage batteries mean you can store your self-produced energy and consume it when you need it.

A house restoration project in progress.
There are bonuses available in Italy to pay for solar panels on your property. Photo: Nolan Issac on Unsplash

Are there any subsidies for the installation of solar panels?

Yes. The Italian government has introduced and extended a raft of building bonuses in order to galvanise the construction industry following the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

And included in this state aid are funds for solar panels.

One such bonus that is currently on offer is the so-called ‘Ecobonus’, which forms part of the government’s Superbonus 110 – a scheme that promises homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110% on expenses related to property renovation and making energy efficiency measures.

READ ALSO: From renovating property to buying a new car: 28 tax ‘bonuses’ you can claim from the Italian government

The property must make at least a double jump in energy class or reach the highest efficiency rating when accessing this pot.

There’s a substantial amount of €48,000 available for making solar-powered upgrades to your home.

For detailed information on how to access these funds, see HERE.

How much can I save on electricity bills if I install solar panels?

Depending on how much power you consume, your bill could even be reduced down to zero.

In any case, using the power generated by solar panels means you use less electricity supplied by the national power services, known as GSE (Gestore dei servizi energetici) – meaning savings on your bills as you’ve produced the power yourself.

You could also get deductions on your bill by selling the excess power your solar system has generated, but that you have not consumed, back to the national grid (this may not be allowed, however, if you’ve taken advantage of the superbonus funding).. 

READ ALSO: Rising energy prices: How to save money on your bills in Italy

Variables such as how much power you use, when you consume it, the size of your installation and how well it’s positioned to receive as much sun exposure as possible and the quality of the system, will all affect how much you could eventually save.

At best estimates with a highly performing solar-powered system, consumers could reportedly make an average annual profit of €893.

That means the estimates on when you’ll start seeing a return on your investment are said to be within 5-7 years, depending on the system you opt for.

After that, you could start making a profit of an annual financial return of 12%.

With solar panels lasting an average of 25-30 years, there are considerable savings to be made – if you plan on living in that property long-term.

Can you install solar panels in any location?

There are regulations on where solar panels can be mounted, which could exclude some property owners from using this source of energy.

Condominiums are able to install a photovoltaic system without having to ask for prior authorisation, except for those in a listed area, according to legal accounts.

As long as the works don’t “prejudice the aesthetic decorum of the condominium”, solar panels are okay in these types of buildings.

READ ALSO: When can you switch on your heating in Italy this winter?

The good news about installing solar panels is that it’s one less complex area of bureaucracy – you can proceed without having to ask for prior authorisation.

The full list of works that can be carried out without permission can be found in this government list.

However, if the building you want to add solar panels to is located in a historic area of a town centre (centro storico), you would have to ask for authorisation from an appropriate body, such as the local municipality or the Management for Architectural Heritage (Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici).

If you’re not sure whether your property falls under this remit, the authorities would check that the installation of the solar-powered system does not compromise the aesthetics of the landscape.

Outside of these historic areas though, it’s not important whether the panels are visible or not.

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