Trio to build Italy's largest photovoltaic panel factory -

Trio to build Italy’s largest photovoltaic panel factory

Italy’s biggest photovoltaic panel factory is to be established following the signing of a project financing agreement for €150 million (about $197 million) by Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics.

The 3Sun equal share joint venture moves in to its operational phase following the agreement signed by the three partners in January. The joint venture intends to integrate production of photovoltaic cells and panels at a factory in Catania, Italy.

The Sicilian factory’s initial photovoltaic panel production capacity, equivalent to 160 MW per year, 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 (about $64 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 (about $92 million) in cash or in tangible and intangible assets.

Enel Green Power is expert in developing renewable energy and in project management while Sharp contributes its exclusive triple-junction thin-film technology, in production since the spring of this year at the Sakai factory in Japan.

The factory, whose yearly output is expected to reach 480 MW over the coming years, will be Italy’s largest photovoltaic panel manufacturer from the first day of operation. Panel production at the Catania plant is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2011.

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.

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