(Bloomberg) – Italy wants the European Union to allow farmers to sell surplus electricity generated on their land, a measure that could help soften a block-wide energy crisis.
“Italian agricultural companies have huge surfaces available that should be filled with solar panels,” Agriculture Minister Stefano Patuaneli said in an interview Monday, referring to the roofs of stables, granaries and sheds. “It’s unbelievable that they’re not allowed to sell what they produce and what they don’t need.”
Under EU rules set in 2014, agricultural companies are only allowed to produce energy to cover their own costs if they want to get public incentives. According to the minister, the bloc should change that directive as it seeks to sever power ties with Russia in pursuit of its climate change goals.
“It’s because of the fear of competition with energy companies,” Patuaneli said. “Italy will officially ask for this limit to be removed.”
The Ministry of Agriculture plans to allocate 1.5 billion euros ($ 1.6 billion) by 2026 to install up to 375 MW of electricity through a photovoltaic system smaller than 500kW on the roofs of agricultural buildings.
Solar sharing – which involves the use of agricultural land for crop production as well as for power generation – has gained traction in recent years as farmers seek to cash in on the boom of renewable projects. It is not uncommon for them to lease land and pay indirectly without owning the project.
Earlier this month, the EU unveiled a 210 billion-euro plan to increase LNG imports and renewable energy capacity, with the bloc set to meet 45% of its demand by 2030. The strategy focuses on cutting red ribbons for wind and solar farms. .
Patuaneli will discuss his request with EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni at a meeting on Tuesday and hopes that other countries that can produce energy from the sun – such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and France – will support it.
“We have a new law ready to announce as soon as the EU gives the green light to overcome our own consumption rules,” Patuaneli said.
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