The Montalto photovoltaic plant is Italy's largest PV plant.
Enel opened the PV power plant on 7 August 2009.
Photovoltaic panels for the plant were supplied by Sharp in a joint venture with Enel.
With an installed capacity of 6MW, the Montalto di Castro plant is among the largest power plants in Europe.

Enel opened Italy’s largest photovoltaic (PV) plant in Montalto di Castro, province of Viterbo on 7 August 2009. The plant lies just around the never-completed nuclear power station.

The plant, with an installed capacity of 6MW, is among the largest power plants in Europe. The power station generates nearly seven million kWh of energy a year. The energy produced from the plant is sufficient for the power needs of 2,700 households.

Enel Green Power also has a 3.3MW power station at Serre Persano in Salerno. It was the first large-scale photovoltaic plant in the country when it was established in 1993. It is still fully operational.

The plan to establish the Montalto PV plant was announced in May 2007. It is part of a five-year (2007 to 2011) environmental project taken up by Enel to research and invest about €4bn in renewable energy sources.

PV plant development

The PV plant was designed and developed by Enel Green Power subsidiary The solar power panels cover a total area of about 10ha (24.7 acres). Sharp was the main supplier of the photovoltaic panels for the project.

“The energy produced from the plant is sufficient for the power needs of 2,700 households.” has been developing renewable sources of energy. The company installed PV plants of about 80MW for domestic and industrial customers, including utilities.

Sharp and Enel formed a joint venture in 2009 to establish solar power projects in Italy. The JV is to develop several photovoltaic power plants to operate as an independent power producer in the country.

Solar technology

The solar PVs convert solar radiation into direct electric current. The materials in the solar cells of PV panels are arranged in arrays for grasping the solar energy. The electricity is generated when photons of the sunlight excite the electrons of the material into a higher state of energy creating electricity. The process is known as photovoltaic effect.

The current from the device is entirely due to the transduced sunlight energy. The photovoltaic devices in general are a type of photodiode. The Montalto di Castro plant utilises thin-film solar cells. The cells often enable greater amounts of power during warm climate conditions.

Grid network

The electricity produced from the Montalto PV plant will be injected into the national power grid.

“Enel’s smart meter technology allows efficient utilisation of power in households, saving €1.5 a customer a month.”

Enel, one of the country’s largest utility providers, first implemented its largest and own smart grid network technology in Italy in 2000. The Telegestore project, in which the company designed, manufactured and installed its own meters, was completed in 2005. The smart meters are connected through a low bandwidth power line for communication.

The system integrator and software were developed by Enel. The smart meter technology of the company allows efficient utilisation of power in households, saving €1.5 a customer a month. The Italian utility has about 30 million smart meters, the largest number in the world. Enel saves about €500m annually with its smart meter network by controlling voltage and frequency levels. The installations cost Enel about €2.2bn.

Local environmental impact

The solar energy is a renewable source and environmental friendly. The plant will annually prevent CO2 emissions of about 5,000t.

PV market

The market for PV power production industry is doubling every two years. The solar farms to be developed by the Enel and Sharp JV will be mainly in southern Italy, for a total capacity of 189MW by 2012. The companies are investing $1bn into the project.

Southern Italy complies with the Mediterranean Solar Plan announced in 2008. The objective of the plan is to develop 20GW of new renewable energy by 2020 in the region. The developments will include generation of power by PV (3–4GW), by concentrating solar power (10–12GW) and by wind (5–6GW).