The Emilia Romagna Region has adopted new simplification and development measures for solar plants located in exhausted landfills and disused quarries.
Please find attached a summary of the most important innovations provided by the new regulations (D.G.R. Emilia-Romagna of 27 September 2021, n. 1500 and of 20 September 2021 n. 1458)”
Photovoltaic plants located in exhausted landfills
On 13 October 2021, it has been published on the official bulletin of Emilia-Romagna region, the Resolution of the Regional Council n. 1500 approved on September 27, 2021 aimed at introducing new measures of simplification and support for the construction of photovoltaic plants to be installed in landfill areas.
The recent initiative, accepting and implementing the new directives referred to in legislative Decree no. 77/2021, converted into Law 108/2021 and in particular the art. 32, partially reforms the previous Guidelines issued by Council Resolution no. 1514 of October 24, 2011, which had already introduced simplifications regarding photovoltaic plants installed on the sediment areas of exhausted landfills.
In particular, under the new regional regulation, the authorization regime of the Simplified Permit Procedure (in Italy so-called “PAS”) has been extended to the installation of new photovoltaic plants having the following characteristics:
- power up to 20 megawatts;
- connected to the medium voltage electrical grid;
- located in areas with industrial, commercial or productive destination or, alternatively located in landfills or landfill lots no longer susceptible to further exploitation (in that case, is required the prior release by the competent authority of the certificate of completion of recovery and environmental restoration activities).
It is also specified that if the landfill area designated for the installation of photovoltaic plants is owned by local authorities, the Resolution sets a limit for the quantification of income deriving from the operation of the aforementioned plants, which cannot have impact of more than 3% on the post-operational management costs of the landfill.
Installation of photovoltaic plants on disused quarries
In this context, it has to be mentioned the Resolution no. 1458 of September 20, 2021, with which the Regional Council regulated the installation of photovoltaic plants in disused quarry areas.
The Resolution, first of all, provides the definition of quarry, as “the areas of the regional territory that have been affected by mining activities, in accordance with the provisions of the regional law no. 17 of July 18, 1991 (Regulations for mining activities), as well as abandoned and unsettled quarry areas, as per articles 6, paragraph 5, letter c), and 7, paragraph 2, letter d), of the same Regional Law no. 17/1991”.
Quarries are classified into four types according to their respective destination:
a) quarries with “final environmental” destination: if the area, once the mining activity is completed, has been subjected to environmental or naturalistic recovery activities;
b) quarries with “final agricultural” destination: an area in which, thanks to prior plugging, agricultural reutilization has been facilitated;
c) quarries with “final reservoir” destination: the area has been subjected to a reservoir arrangement;
d) areas of abandoned and unsettled quarries: if the area has not been subjected to any previous restoration/arrangement work and is in a state of abandonment.
The destinations referred to in letters a), b) and c) are attested by a certificate of acceptance of the final arrangement works and by the release by the competent municipal body of the guarantee.
For what is strictly relevant to photovoltaic plants, art. 2.2 recognizes, on an experimental basis, the possibility to install so-called “floating” photovoltaic plants, under the following conditions:
(i) location – floating photovoltaic plants can only be installed:
- in quarry areas with final destination to reservoir, as per letter c);
- in abandoned and unsettled quarry areas as per letter d), in the case that a water reservoir has been formed; in the latter quarries, the installation of ground plants is allowed.
(ii) technical requirements:
- the surface occupied by the plant cannot exceed 50 % of the reservoir basin;
- the installation must take place in the central part of the basin;
- installation is precluded in basins less than 3 meters deep;
- the installation always requires the simultaneous expansion of the natural areas present in the site.
In the quarry areas returned to agricultural use referred to in letter b), can instead be installed:
- so-called agrovoltaic plants characterized by “the integration of energy production through the photovoltaic plants with the exercise of agricultural activity, thanks to the use of technologies that do not involve negative impacts on the activity of agricultural and pastoral cultivation“; in this case it is required to attach to the request for the authorization, a sworn statement from a qualified technician to demonstrate the compatibility of the plant with the program of actions concerning the activity of agricultural and pastoral cultivation;
- panels on the ground without any limit, if the area is not cultivated; if, on the other hand, the area is cultivated, only plants with a nominal power less than or equal to 200 Kw are allowed, which do not exceed 10% of the available agricultural area.
On the other hand, any possibility of energy exploitation has been denied in the case of quarries with a final environmental destination, as per letter a), and in the cases of abandoned and unsettled quarries, as per letter d), falling within areas subject to landscape protection.
November 5, 2021