Italy’s largest PV manufacturing plant obtains $ 197 million

Construction will soon begin at what would be Italy’s largest photovoltaic panel factory after an international consortium secured 150 million euros ($197.44 million) for the project.

Enel Green Power, Sharp Corporation and STMicroelectronics have joined forces to finance the construction of the 3Sun joint venture, which costs at least 320 million euros. Each partner pledged up to 70 million euros worth of cash, tangible or intangible assets for the project. Each of the three companies will hold a one-third share in the project.

The Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic Planning also earmarked 49 million euros for the construction of the manufacturing plant, bringing the project’s total funding to about 199 million euros.

Located in Catania, Sicily, the factory will manufacture triple-junction thin-film photovoltaic panels for medium and large-scale solar projects. These panels will reportedly be capable of maintaining a very high level of energy conversion efficiency compared with ordinary silicon solar panels.

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The plant will have an initial production capacity of 160 megawatts annually, which could increase to 480 MW annually over the coming years. Solar panel production is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2011., a subsidiary of Enel Green Power, will sell the panels through its franchise network of over 500 installers throughout Italy.

Meanwhile, Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy – another joint venture between Enel and Sharp – plans to jointly build and manage solar farms using solar panels manufactured at the Catania plant. The joint venture aims to have over 500 MW of installed capacity in the Mediterranean region by 2016.

The construction of the Cantania manufacturing plant is a testament to the continuing boom in solar demand in Italy despite the government’s decision to gradually cut solar incentives.

The Italian government unveiled in July its three-year solar incentive plan, which includes 30 percent cuts in feed-in tariffs for solar plants with a capacity of more than 5 MW in 2011. Incentives for smaller installations will also be gradually reduced by up to 20 percent, and one-off 6 percent annual cuts will be implemented in 2012 and 2013.

The new plan also puts a 3,000 MW cap on all new capacity over the next three years.
Enel Green Power, the renewable energy arm of Italy’s Enel Group (MIL:ENEL, OTCBB:ENLAY), has an installed capacity of more than 5,700 MW from over 600 operating renewable energy plants worldwide.

Japanese electronics giant Sharp Corporation (TYO:6753, Pink Sheets:SHCAY) has started manufacturing its exclusive triple-junction thin-film solar technology at its factory in the city of Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

Switzerland-based STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM, Euronext:STM) manufactures electronic applications with innovative semiconductor solutions. The company raked in $8.51 billion net revenues in 2009.



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