Agrivoltaic: new rules for the installation of solar panels


Emma Potter

Can agriculture and clean energy production coexist in harmony? The answer appears to be a cautious “yes,” thanks to new guidelines issued by the Italian government that outline where solar panels can and cannot be installed.

This regulatory change is the result of intense negotiations between the Ministers of Agriculture and the Environment, Francesco Lollobrigida and Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, culminating in the approval of a decree during the last meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The decree aims to balance the needs of protecting productive agricultural land with the necessary expansion of renewable energy infrastructure. A clear one is reported stop the installation of photovoltaic panels on productive agricultural landwhile opening the door to new installations in less conventional areas such as abandoned quarries, mines and areas adjacent to existing infrastructure.

Details on the decree and the areas involved

The decree specifies that the installation of ground-mounted solar panels on productive agricultural land is now prohibited, a decision intended to protect the integrity and productivity of farmland. On the other hand, the decree actively promotes the installation of renewable energy systems in less traditional areas.

These areas suitable for new solar systems include discontinued quarries and minesland owned by the Ferrovie dello Stato group or airport managers, and areas surrounding industrial plants or production plants within a perimeter of 500 metres.

Furthermore, the decree allows the installation of solar panels in areas adjacent to the motorway networkup to 300 meters away, and in sites already equipped with energy systems awaiting reconstruction or modification, without further occupation of land.

These measures are designed to minimize visual and environmental impact while maximizing land use efficiency.

To avoid legal uncertainties and protect already planned investments, the decree has included specific clauses that safeguard the procedures already authorized before its entry into force. This measure is essential to maintain investor confidence and ensure the continuity of ongoing projects, especially those linked to Renewable Energy Communities (CER) and the plans of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, as Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, clarified that the decree will not apply to plants that provide self-consumption configurations with Cer.

He also reiterated the importance of maintaining the objectives of the Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) for 2030, which includes a significant increase in installed solar energy capacity.

These provisions demonstrate a balance between the protection of agricultural resources and the promotion of renewable energy, a vital balance to achieve national and international energy objectives while respecting the environment and the economic fabric.

The political context and future prospects

The debate on agrivoltaics has highlighted the complexity of balancing the needs of sustainable development with the protection of agricultural resources. The discussion between the Minister of the Environment, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, and the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, led to the formulation of a compromise that reflects extensive mediation work.

This compromise resulted in the decree that now regulates the installation of solar panels, showing a capacity for political adaptation to the contemporary needs of energy development and environmental protection.

The successful implementation of this decree will be crucial in determining whether Italy can effectively achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals, as set out in the PNIEC, by planning to increase solar energy capacity to approximately 38 gigawatts by 2030.

This scenario offers significant growth potential for the agrivoltaic sector, estimated at around 60 billion euros, representing a great opportunity for investment and economic development.