Italian solar acquisition focuses on local biodiversity and agricultural benefits
Lightsource bp continues to boost its utility scale solar portfolio by acquiring three projects from Horizon Firm, a trusted developer specialised in solar, totalling 156 MWp across Italy.
Two of the projects are based in Sicily, in a low solar plant massification density area, in the province of Agrigento: the Canicattì project (40.9 MWp) and the Torre di Mastro project (58.2 MWp). The third project, Manfredonia (57.4 MWp), based in Apulia, will be developed as an Agri-PV with the aim of virtuously integrating agriculture and renewable energy. These projects cast light upon the two regions’ strategic roles for the development of RES in line with the national objectives of energy production and decarbonisation.
Horizon Firm’s expertise has been instrumental in identifying and selecting solar project sites that can be developed responsibly to protect local ecosystems and continue agricultural practices. Lightsource bp has also entered into an exclusivity agreement with Horizon Firm to acquire an additional 130 MWp of solar projects and aims to complete this transaction in the next few months. Also, for these projects, the companies will explore the potential benefits of adding an energy storage system. As well as maximising clean energy production this could also help support the island’s electricity grid infrastructure.
This latest partnership with Horizon Firm brings Lightsource bp’s Italian solar development pipeline to over 1.5 GWp, providing a significant contribution to the country’s long term commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. These three projects are expected to reach ready to build status in 2022.
These solar developments are forecast to stay in place for over 30 years and address some of the key challenges around the decarbonisation process. In fact, as the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, has stressed several times, that the strong advancement of RES represents one of the pillars to reach the ambitious European and national renewable energy growth goals.
Lightsource bp has over 10 years’ experience in managing solar sites; its in-house team has developed dual-land use initiatives such as improving pollinator habitats, bee farming, grassland management for animal feed and grazing of small livestock and will look to implement these activities across its solar developments in Italy.
For example, in Apulia, the entire land area of the Manfredonia solar project (104 hectares) will offer both immediate and long term opportunities to boost biodiversity and create diversified income for local rural businesses. Initially, enhanced pollinator habitats and bee farming will be established within the first five years. On the long term, 3700 olive trees will be planted around the site boundary for harvesting and other local economic opportunities.
Lightsource bp will work closely in partnership with agricultural community groups and members to establish these additional features of the solar project over time.
Lightsource bp intends to invest €105 million locally through these projects, which also includes procurement of local services and the creation of 1300 green jobs in construction, land management, agricultural activities, and engineering. Through the collaboration with Horizon Firm, opportunities for training and skills development for younger generations are also being explored.
Giovanni Mascari, in-country lead for Italy at Lightsource bp, commented: ‘We acquired this portfolio from Horizon Firm because these projects have been sensitively planned around local ecological and heritage values. We intend to build on this good work to demonstrate that solar projects can create opportunities to meet climate goals whilst addressing local economic growth and enabling diversification of income for the agriculture sector. We look forward to working closely with local authorities and agriculture specialists to further establish our plans for these projects.’
Christian Chiaruzzi and Agostino Costantino, partners and directors at Horizon Firm, said: ‘We strongly believe that shifting to a low carbon economy which integrates agriculture and renewable energy is an effective way to achieve the joint goals of the ecological transition and decarbonisation.
‘We are very proud to partner with Lightsource bp in the development of these projects. In the last 10 years, we have fully dedicated our personal and professional resources, leveraging on the expertise of our company, to shape a better and cleaner economy. We are very satisfied to contribute to a more sustainable world for future generations, by combining renewable energy, rural economy and environmental protection.’
Lightsource bp has been actively working in Italy since 2018, and most recently in February 2021 announced its local project development pipeline reached 1.2 GW through a Sicilian acquisition.