Work begins on Italy’s biggest PV panel factory

The project’s initial PV panel production capacity will be equivalent to 160 megawatts (MW) per year say the companies, with panel production scheduled to begin in the second half of next year.

The 3Sun equal share joint venture has entered into its operational phase, in line with the agreement signed by the three partners this January 4. Its statutory bodies were appointed today. The goal of the joint venture is to start operations at the Catania factory for the integrated production of innovative PV cells and panels.

The factory, whose yearly output is expected to reach 480 MW over the coming years, will be Italy’s largest PV panel manufacturer from the first day of operation, state the companies.

Enel Green Power and Sharp have also created a separate joint venture, Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy – ESSE, for the construction and joint management of solar farms for the generation and sale of electricity in the Mediterranean region, using the panels produced by the Catania plant. The total installed capacity is projected to be over 500 MW by 2016.

Factory output will also serve the “most promising” solar markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean area, the region in which Enel Green Power and Sharp already have extensive sales networks. Enel.si, a subsidiary of Enel Green Power specialised in the installation of PV systems for the retail market, will also take part in the marketing, selling panels through its own franchise network of over 500 approved installers, located throughout Italy.

The factory is to be financed through a combination of self-financing, funding from the CIPE (the Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic planning) – which recently set aside €49 million for this project – and project financing provided by leading banks. Each partner has underwritten one third of the equity – with a commitment of €70 million in cash or in tangible and intangible assets, as previously announced – and holds one third of the shares in the new joint venture.

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