ITALY: EU investigation into aid to solar panel company

The European Commission will investigate the level of state aid planned for a new Italian solar panel manufacturer. The EC argues that the company is part of a large construction group and therefore not eligible for an extra 10% percent, top-up funding reserved for small firms.

The Italian Government has insisted that Solar Tech meets the criteria for Small to Medium Size Enterprise (SME) extra funding. The EC disagrees and alleges that “Solar Tech is in fact controlled by a large industrial construction group, Permasteelisa”.

Solar Tech srl is a new company with plans to build a factory in the province of Apulia that would produce amorphous silicon film and solar panels. Italy has agreed to provide euros 43 million in state aid to help finance the construction of the euros 58 million factory. The EC says that the “amount of aid proposed is too high and liable to distort competition to an extent contrary to the common interest”.

Despite its investigation into Solar Tech, the EC has stated that it supports “the value of promoting investment in less-favoured areas in mushrooming areas such as the manufacture of solar panels”.

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