Catania, Italy: The biggest photovoltaic plant in Italy is now officially open for business. Located in Catania, Sicily, the plant is run by 3Sun, the joint venture between Enel Green Power, Sharp, and STMicroelectronics (see the figure).
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, the plant is already the largest solar panel factory in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.
The plant was financed through a mix of capital from the partners as well as 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 has experience in 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 Enel.si. Sharp’s unique multi-junction thin-film technology already is being manufactured at its factory in Sakai, Japan, and its photovoltaic panels are being marketed through Sharp’s subsidiaries in Europe. STMicroelectronics offers its manufacturing capabilities, a staff highly trained in advanced technology sectors such as microelectronics, and 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 projects under development and the sales networks of Enel Green Power and Sharp. 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 more than 500 MW by 2016, using panels manufactured by the factory, which will also be used by the 1-MW photovoltaic plant that ESSE will build on the rooftop of the new factory.