EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann said that in sun-bathed

southern Italy investments in photovoltaics would next year

start to compete with electricity from the national power grid.

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But problems with the administrative burden and difficulties

connecting to the grid are holding the industry back.

If given sufficient initial support, photovoltaic would

become competitive with other power sources in nearly

three-quarters of the European Union by 2020, and could then

stand on its own without subsidies, Hoffmann added.

He said solar power currently cost around 0.2-0.4 euros per

kilowatt, four to eight times more expensive than fossil-fuel

based power.

But the photovoltaic industry has cut costs in half every

eight years and would continue to do so, while fossil-fuel based

electricity will become increasingly expensive as the sector has

to start buying permits to emit CO2 under the EU Emissions

Trading Scheme from 2013.

EPIA expects photovoltaic power to supply between 4 percent

and 6 percent of European electricity needs by 2020, up from

less than 1 percent at present.

But with improved government support, that share could

increase to 12 percent by 2020, helping the EU meet its goal of

getting a fifth of its energy from renewable sources by the same

date.

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