UK: Fourth Energy Account - The 2011-16 Incentives For Photovoltaic Power Generation

Last Updated: 3 June 2011
Article by Energy Group


The Fourth Energy Account sets out the incentives for installing photovoltaic power plants from 1 June 2011 to 31 December 2016. It is subject to the transitional rules of the Second Energy Account and the Third Energy Account for plants that started operating before 30 June 2011 and 31 May 2011 respectively. This briefing examines both the simplified authorisation procedures for installing and reconstructing renewable power plants and the related 20-year feed-in and feed-in premium tariffs. The new rules confirm some specific tariff rises, including a new increase of incentive to use material made in the EU.


On 13 May, the Ministry for Economic Development decree (Decree) of 5 May came into force. It sets out the incentives for generating electricity by photovoltaic power plants that start operating between 1 June 2011 and 31 December 2016 – the Fourth Energy Account.

The rules set out in the Second Energy Account will remain for plants that gave notice of the completion of works by 31 December 2010 and will start operating by 30 June 2011. The tariffs envisaged by the Third Energy Account will only apply to plants that start operating by 31 May 2011.

The feed-in tariffs for the Fourth Energy Account apply to natural or legal persons, public entities and co-owners of photovoltaic power plants that start operating after 31 May 2011 (following installation, total reconstruction or upgrading) and that – not having benefited from the incentives of the previous energy accounts – have the following characteristics:

  • capacity of at least 1kW;
  • meet the technical standards both in the Decree and in Legislative Decree No. 28/2011;
  • new or newly built components;
  • a single connection point to the national grid or to small power grids; and
  • with sole regard to plants located in agricultural areas, the nominal capacity of each plant must not exceed 1MW, the plants must be located at a distance of no less than 2km and the plants must not use more than 10 per cent of the agricultural land at the disposal of the installer.

The Decree sets out the expenditure limits for each six-month period up to and including 2016 for the application of incentives to integrated photovoltaic power plants with innovative features and concentrator photovoltaic power plants.

The table above shows the expenditure limits for the incentives for photovoltaic plants for 2011-2012. The limits apply to 'large' plants; ie those with a capacity of over 1MW if installed on buildings or other plants (ie not on buildings) that are not operating under the reverse metering scheme (excluding plants installed on areas or buildings belonging to the Public Administration). The limit specified will be used by Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE) to compile admission lists for each six-month period, which do not operate on a rolling basis (except for plants that start operating by 31 August 2011), based on the following priorities, listed in order of importance:

  • plants that are operating on the date that the application is submitted; plants for which the installation
  • works are completed on the date that the application is submitted; and
  • non-operational plants whose installation works are not completed, if they have been duly authorised and their connection requests have been accepted by the grid operator.

Within each category, the GSE will give priority to plants on the basis of the following criteria:

  • priority of the date of the relevant authorisation;
  • lower capacity of the plant; and
  • priority of the date that the application is submitted.

The level of the feed-in tariffs is set out in annex no. 5 to the Decree. They will be granted for 20 years from when the plant starts operating and may be added to the revenue from the sale of the generated electricity, because they are granted exclusively for the production of electricity, not the sale.

For plants that start operating after 31 December 2012, the scheme has undergone some important changes. First, the feed-in premium system of 2011-2012 is replaced by a feed-in tariff scheme, in which the level of the feed-in tariff already includes the price at which GSE purchases the electricity directly from the producer operating under the scheme. Exceeding the expenditure limits in the table below (with a total of 9,770MW and at a cost of €1,361m) will no longer result in disqualification from the incentives, only a reduction in such incentives for the next six months.


Under Legislative Decree No. 28/2011, the installation and operation of photovoltaic power plants continues to be facilitated, including by a series of administrative measures. Indeed, applicants may use the simplified authorisation procedure (which replaced the statement of commencement of works, but follows the same lines), if the installer holds legal title to build on the area that the plants and the relevant works are installed. For integrated plants of any capacity installed on existing buildings, the surface area of the modules must not exceed that of the roof. Non-integrated plants may only use the simplified procedure if their capacity does not exceed 20kW. However, the regions and autonomous provinces can extend this threshold from a minimum of 50kW to a maximum of 1MW, as did the Abruzzo region, which raised the threshold to 1MW.

The rules on authorisations have been deregulated. The installation and operation of plants of up to 200kW, comprising modules adhering to or integrated with roofs of existing buildings (or their adjoining structures) are merely subject to a notice of commencement of works, while plants with the same slope and direction as the pitch, and whose components do not alter the outline of the buildings in question, if the surface area of the plant does not exceed that of the roof, can benefit from the notice of commencement without any capacity limitation. Even in this case, the regions and the autonomous provinces are entitled to extend the scope of application of the deregulation without any limits on capacity to integrated plants, or to non-integrated plants (eg on the ground) with a nominal capacity of up to 50kW.

There are specific rules, characterised by further simplification, for the installation of roof-top plants on newly constructed buildings or for large-scale reconstruction projects of existing buildings.

These are designed to cover the heating, electricity and airconditioning requirements of such buildings. All other types of installation of photovoltaic power plants are, in principle, subject to the single authorisation procedure.

Another change is that the power grid operators that receive requests for connecting photovoltaic power plants must obtain authorisation. In cases where works (that are not included in the connection estimates) are needed for the feed-in and off-take of electricity generated by several plants or to improve the dispatch of electricity generated by existing plants, the grid operator will be required to obtain regional authorisation for these works. The relevant regions are required to ensure that the procedures activated at the request of the grid operators are co-ordinated with the authorisation procedures for the installation and operation of the plants served by the new works effected by the grid operators.

Applications for incentives 2011-2012

Plants other than large plants, as defined by the Decree, are admitted to the incentive scheme with no cost limits.

Large plants that start operating by 31 August 2011 will be admitted directly to the incentive scheme, subject to informing the GSE that they have started operating within 15 days of doing so.

Large plants other than those in the paragraph above may only benefit from the incentives if both the following conditions are met:

  • entry in the electronic register kept by the GSE in such a way as to be included within the cost limits set out for each relevant period; and
  • the certificate of completion of works of the plant must be received by the GSE within seven months of the publication of the list or within nine months in the case of plants with a capacity exceeding 1MW.

Applications for registration may only be submitted in specific windows of time.

The lists will be published within 15 days of the closure of each period, based on the corresponding availability of photovoltaic incentives, as set out below.

Tariff increases and other forms of incentive

The feed-in tariffs may be added to investment subsidies of less than 30 or 60 per cent, depending on the type of investment and the capacity of the plant.

There is also a simplified sales procedure for plants admitted to the scheme in 2011-2012. For example, if a plant has a capacity of up to 200kW, it may benefit from reverse metering (scambio sul posto). In other words, offsetting the value of the electricity generated and injected into the grid against the value of the electricity withdrawn and used in a different period from that in which it is generated. The regulated off-take scheme (ritiro dedicato) – whereby producers sell electricity directly to GSE through a simplified sales procedure – is available to plants with a higher capacity. Producers may still sell electricity on the free market through the electricity exchange or bilateral agreements. For 2011-2012, the revenue from such sales is added to the feed-in tariffs, and from 2013, the level of the feed-in tariff will already include the price at which GSE purchases the electricity.

Roof-top plants that use the reverse metering scheme may also be granted an increase in the feed-in tariffs when they increase their energy efficiency. The tariff will be increased with half the reduction of electricity needs achieved by interventions on the outside of buildings that have produced a reduction of at least 10 per cent of the summer and winter energy performance factors. The increase may not, however, exceed 30 per cent of the basic tariff.

Roof-top plants with a capacity not exceeding 1MW may also be granted an increase in the feed-in tariffs when they increase their energy efficiency. The tariffs will be increased by 50 per cent of the reduction of electricity needs achieved by interventions on the outside of buildings that have produced a reduction of at least 10 per cent of the summer and winter energy performance factors. The increase may not, however, exceed 30 per cent of the basic tariff.

Small plants are eligible for an increase of 5 per cent in the tariff if they are installed by a municipality with a population of less than 5,000. There is a further increase of 5 eurocents/kW if, in addition to the installation of the panels, fibre cement or asbestos roofing is removed.

The tariffs are increased by 5 per cent for all plants other than those installed on buildings if they are in areas classified as industrial, commercial, exhausted quarries, dumps or contaminated sites.

There is interesting news for users of solar panels manufactured within the EU: a 10 per cent increase of the tariff for plants whose investment costs – excluding labour – account for at least 60 per cent of products made in the EU.

The Italian Energy Authority will issue one or more regulations to set out the procedures to be granted with the feed-in tariffs, the consequences related to the loss of incentives due to transmission operators' delay in connecting the plant to the electricity grid and the budgeting of the Third Energy Account through the regulated tariff 'A3'.

On 15 May, GSE also adopted the technical procedures that those responsible for large plants must comply when applying for admission to the scheme in 2011- 2012. Within two months, the Italian Energy Authority will issue measures about, among other things, the grid connection procedures in the case in which a delay caused by the operator results in a loss of the right to incentives and the budgeting of the Fourth Energy Account through the regulated tariff A3.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.