Sharp, Enel, & STMicro Announce Joint Venture for Thin-Film Solar Cells & Independent Photovoltaic Power Generation Business

August 03, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

Sharp Corp., Enel Green Power (EGP), and STMicroelectronics (ST) established 3Sun S.r.l., a joint venture company for the production of thin-film solar cells. In addition, CIPE, the Italian Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning, has authorized a subsidy for this solar cell plant.

3Sun will start the production of thin-film solar cells in the second half of 2011 by utilizing the existing facility of ST in Catania, Sicily Region, Italy. The thin-film solar cell plant will start operation with an initial annual production capacity of 160 MW, which is scheduled to be expanded to an annual production capacity of 480 MW in the future. The thin-film solar cells produced in this plant will be marketed mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean area through the sales networks of Sharp and EGP.

In addition, Sharp and EGP have established Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy S.r.l (hereinafter, ESSE), a joint venture of the two companies that will be engaged in the independent power producer (IPP) business to develop, build and operate photovoltaic power generation plants.

ESSE will establish power generation plants with a total power generation capacity of more than 500 MW by the end of 2016. ESSE will use the thin-film solar cells produced by the 3Sun plant in Catania, and extend its IPP business to Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a focus on the Mediterranean area. Thin-film solar cells are suitable for large-scale photovoltaic power generation, especially in the Mediterranean areas including Southern Europe (EMEA). As compared to silicon type solar cells, the thin-film solar cells are able to maintain their conversion efficiency even in hot climates.

Through collaboration with a power company, Sharp aims to become a total solution company in the photovoltaic field, initiating the world’s first business model extending from thin-film solar cell production to IPP business.