3Sun, a joint venture between STMicroelectronics NV, Sharp Corporation and Enel Green Power SpA, will produce thin film photovoltaic modules – "on the basis of multiple-junction technology" at the plant, which is located in Catania, Italy.
Construction work already began last July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. Annual module production capacity will be 240 megawatts.
In justifying its allocation of state funds, the European Commission says it "found the measure to be compatible with EU rules, and in particular with the requirements of the Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013 (see IP/05/1653), because, on balance, the positive effects of the investment on regional development outweigh potential distortions of competition induced by the aid."
It added that the Catania region has "an abnormally low standard of living and high unemployment".
Furthermore, during its investigation, the Commission explains it calculated that 3Sun’s, and Sharps, market shares on the worldwide market for photovoltaic products are well below the 25 percent threshold both before and after the investment.
The statement continued: "As the market for photovoltaic products has a double-digit growth rate (based on 2004 and 2009 figures), which is well above that of overall economic growth for the European Economic Area (EEA) for the same period, the Commission found that the additional production capacity created by the project would raise no concerns either."