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Enel, Sharp, ST boost Europe solar power

Posted: 04 Aug 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3Sun? photovoltaic panels? PV? manufacturing?

Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics have signed a binding commitment letter for a project financing agreement for ?150 million, following ?49 million funding set aside by the Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) for the development of what will be Italy's biggest photovoltaic (PV) panel factory. The equal share joint venture, named 3Sun, will start operations at a factory in Catania, Sicily, and produce PV cells and panels for an initial capacity of 160MW per year.

Go-ahead also been given for a joint venture between Enel Green Power and Sharp for the development of solar farms set to generate over 500MW, Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy (ESSE).

The Sicilian factory's initial PV panel production capacity is to be financed through a combination of self-financing, funding from the CIPE and project financing provided by leading banks. Each partner has underwritten one third of the equity, with a commitment of ?70 million in cash or in tangible and intangible assets, and holds one third of the shares in the new joint venture.

Each partner brings specialized knowledge and skills to 3Sun. Enel Green Power is involved in developing renewable energy on an international scale and in project management. Sharp contributes its exclusive triple-junction thin-film technology, in production since the spring of this year at the Sakai factory in Japan. STMicroelectronics has manufacturing know-how with highly trained specialists in state-of-the-art technology sectors such as microelectronics.

The factory, whose yearly output is expected to reach 480MW over the coming years, will be Italy's largest PV panel manufacturer from the first day of operation. Panel production at the Catania plant is scheduled to begin in 2H 11.

ESSE, meanwhile, will be involved in 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 500MW by 2016.

Factory output will also serve the most promising solar markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean area, the region in which Enel Green Power and Sharp already have sales networks.

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