First Climate Spin-off develops 29 MWp Photovoltaic Project in Italy
Green light for pioneering renewable energy project in southern Europe: First Climate Solar Investments GmbH (FCSI) to install 51 roof-mounted photovoltaic panel systems atop commercial buildings in the Piedmont, Apulia, and Basilicata regions in Italy. Once completed in winter 2022/2023, the systems will generate about 35 GWh of clean solar energy annually.
In addition to the benefits for climate and environmental protection, the project also has a direct benefit for the companies that lease their rooftops to FCSI as part of the project, which makes the installation of the solar systems possible. The companies have the opportunity to directly consume the renewable energy for their own use, which in turn can help to dampen load spikes, hedge against ever-rising electricity prices over time, and make a direct contribution to climate protection. The project is made possible by the "FER1" program, an aid program created by the Italian government to promote the expansion of renewable energies in the country. Thus, this self-initiated program supports climate-friendly power generation using photovoltaics by granting guaranteed feed-in rates.
51 solar panel systems—up to 0.99 MWp
SI Solar Investments GmbH initiated the "Barolo Portfolio" in partnership with First Climate. In order to achieve the common goals of developing, realizing, and operating rooftop photovoltaic portfolios in Italy, the two companies jointly founded FCSI. With an estimated generation capacity of 29 MWp, the Barolo project is one of the largest of the rooftop portfolios currently planned in Italy as part of "FER1". In its final stage of development, the project will generate enough electricity to provide clean energy to 10,000 households with an average power consumption of 3,500 kWh. First Climate is working with ARPEX, an experienced developer and general contractor for solar projects based in Italy, to implement the project in the three regions.
Win-win situation with climate benefits
Alongside generating a sustainable energy supply, the project also makes an important contribution to the climate-forward refurbishment of the existing building structures. Many of the companies that will rent roof space to FCSI as part of the project still have roofs which contain artificial mineral fibers such as asbestos, which can pose serious health hazards, or are otherwise in need of renovation. In cooperation with experienced field specialist companies, FCSI GmbH will bring the roofs up to code before ARPEX installs the solar panel systems. "For our partner companies, this eliminates the necessity to invest in the required refurbishment measures. At the same time, they gain access to a stable, environmentally friendly, and efficient source of energy without having to invest their own capital upfront," says Julian Schirm, Business Development Manager at FCSI, listing the advantages of the project from the company's point of view. "Vice versa, this gives us access to highly suitable locations for solar power generation without having to resort to using additional land or undergo long approval periods, as would be the case with the alternative construction of ground-mounted systems," says project initiator Thomas Stetter of SI Solar Investments, who has first-hand experience with the lengthy planning processes in open-air spaces through his professional work, is delighted with this win-win constellation.
Opportunity for long-term price hedging
Another advantage of concentrating on the construction of rooftop plants is that the energy is generated directly where the energy is later utilized. "In view of the recent sharp rise in prices in the renewable energy supply, it is an extremely attractive option for many companies to hedge against price risks by purchasing the energy generated on their roofs in sustainable manner as well as the chance to secure purchase conditions guaranteed for the long term. As a matter of practice, we supply the energy produced to our partner companies through so-called power purchase agreements," explains Julian Schirm. He adds that this also ensures relief to the public power grids, especially in times of high grid usage. "The highest amount of PV energy production is during daylight hours and usually occurs around noon, when there is also generally the highest demand for electricity," explains Schirm.
Now that all necessary contracts have been signed, the “Barolo I” project is now entering the implementation phase. By winter, the construction of the planned 51 rooftop installations is scheduled for completion. Simultaneously, planning for the second project phase is already well underway. The "Barolo II" photovoltaic project is expected to be implemented in 2023. The current project portfolio of over 10 MWp is to be significantly expanded in the coming months. Furthermore, there are numerous inquiries from energy-intensive companies in Italy that would like to have their roof areas fitted with a photovoltaic system and purchase the reasonably-priced electricity. FCSI is therefore planning to build a portfolio of installations for companies with high energy consumption based purely on PPAs and without government subsidies.
About First Climate Solar Investments GmbH
First Climate Solar Investments GmbH was founded as an independent company by the partners SI Solar Investments and First Climate. The common goal is the installation of rooftop photovoltaic energy systems in Italy. Together with local partners, the systems are planned, approved, and subsequently built, operated and the resulting electricity marketed. FCSI works closely with First Climate to market the renewably generated electricity. Meanwhile, FCSI has become an independent entity and has spun off entirely from the First Climate group. FCSI has a multidisciplinary team with many years of experience in the areas of solar technology, engineering, and finance law. Employees work from offices in Zurich, Frankfurt, and Milan.