Italy’s Largest Photovoltaic Panel Plant Opens Its Doors

July 10, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

An innovative photovoltaic panels factory run by 3Sun, the equal share joint venture between Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics, was inaugurated in Catania. The plant will manufacture integrated multi-junction, thin-film photovoltaic cells and modules.

With an initial employment of 280 qualified resources and solar panel production capacity of 160 MW per year, which could be increased to an annual 480 MW over the next years, the plant is already the largest solar panel factory in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. It was financed through a mix of capital from the partners, funding from CIPE - which earmarked 49 million euros for the project – and project financing with three major lending institutions: Banca IMI, Centrobanca and Unicredit.

Following the agreement signed in August 2010, each of the three partners subscribed to a third of the capital – committing 70 million euros each in cash or in tangible and intangible assets. The partners have also contributed their specific expertise: Enel Green Power, with the development and operation of plants generating power from renewable resources at the international level and the retail marketing of photovoltaic panels on a national scale through its subsidiary; Sharp, with its unique multi-junction thin-film technology already being manufactured at its factory in Sakai, Japan and the marketing of photovoltaic panels through Sharp’s subsidiaries in Europe; STMicroelectronics, with its manufacturing capabilities, a staff highly trained in advanced technology sectors such as microelectronics as well as its competence in innovative energy-saving power-management systems.

The factory output is intended to meet the demand of solar power markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), using both projects under development and the sales networks of Enel Green Power and Sharp. In this regard, Enel Green Power and Sharp have formed a second joint venture, ESSE (Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy), to develop, build and operate photovoltaic systems in the EMEA area with an output target of over 500MW by 2016, using panels manufactured by the factory, which will also be employed on the 1 MW photovoltaic plant that ESSE will build on the rooftop of the new factory., the Enel Green Power subsidiary specialized in the installation of photovoltaic systems for the retail market, will also participate in the marketing effort, offering panels through its franchise network of over 570 qualified installers throughout Italy.

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