New company 3Sun to start 160MW thin-film output in Italy

A new joint venture firm for the production of thin-film solar cells in Italy has been established by Enel Green Power (EPG), Sharp and STMicroelectronics (ST) with an investment of €150m ($197.5m).

The equal share joint venture 3Sun is scheduled to start thin-film solar cell production in the second-half of 2011, using an existing facility of ST in Catania, Sicily Region in Italy.

The plant will start operations with an initial annual output capacity of 160MW, which would be expanded to an annual production capacity of 480MW.

The PV panel factory received €49m of funding from the Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic Planning. Financing has also come from some banks and the three partners.

The thin-film solar cells from the factory will be sold mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean area through the sales networks of Sharp and EGP.

EGP will use its expertise in developing renewable energy on a global scale and in project management. Sharp will contribute its thin-film technology while ST has manufacturing know-how.

On 22 July, Sharp and EGP established another joint venture, Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy (ESSE), which engages the independent power producer business to develop, build and operate PV power generation plants.

ESSE aims to establish power generation plants with a total power generation capacity of more than 500MW by the end of 2016.

The joint venture firm will use the thin-film solar cells manufactured by the 3Sun plant in Catania, and extend its business to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a focus on the Mediterranean area.