Sharp bows out of 3Sun joint venture

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Sharp will pay €95 million to Enel Green Power to take over its purchase obligations from their 3Sun joint venture in Sicily starting on July 15th. Sharp, Enel and STMicroelectronics launched the 3Sun factory to build multi-junction thin-film silicon solar PV modules in 2011.

Enel and Sharp had committed to purchase the entire output of the factory in Catania, Sicily, which has the capacity to produce roughly 200 MW of PV modules annually. Sharp additionally holds a 50% stake in the JV.

In a notice on its website, Sharp says that it is getting out of the joint venture as part of internal changes driven by the collapse of the European PV market. “In the face of a deterioration in the European economy, revisions of the FIT (Feed-in Tariff for electric energy) policies of major countries, and the more sudden than expected drop in market prices for solar cell modules and other changes of the business environment, it became necessary for Sharp to restructure its solar-cell business in Europe.”

3Sun’s modules are based on a structure of micro-crystalline and amorphous silicon layers. While the technology only offers 9.6% conversion efficiency, Enel notes that like other thin film technologies these modules perform better under low-light and high temperature conditions.

Enel says that it plans to use the PV modules to build plants in emerging nations. This includes South America and South Africa, where Enel has won tenders to build more than 300 MW of PV projects.

Sharp has additionally agreed to transfer its entire share in Enel Green Power & Shapr Solar Energy Srl (ESSE), which develops, builds and owns PV plants in the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions which utilize 3Sun modules.

Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated that Sharp had left the 3Sun joint venture. This article has been corrected to clarify that Sharp is remaining in the 3Sun JV and instead leaving ESSE.