3Sun, a joint venture company owned by Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics, has begun commercial manufacturing operations at its Catania plant, a solar PV module manufacturing facility in Italy. According to the partners, this is the largest PV module plant in Italy and among the largest in Europe.
Construction of the plant was financed by a mix of capital from the partners, other funding sources and project financing with three major lending institutions – Banca IMI, Centrobanca and Unicredit. In its first phase, the plant will produce multi-junction thin-film photovoltaic panels at an annual capacity of 160 MW and will employ around 280 people.
The factory's output is intended to meet the demand of solar power markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), using both projects under development and the sales networks of Enel Green Power and Sharp. The two companies have set up a second joint venture, ESSE (Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy), to develop, build and operate photovoltaic systems in the EMEA area, with an output target of more than 500 MW by 2016, using panels manufactured by the factory.
Enel.si, the Enel Green Power subsidiary specializing in the installation of photovoltaic systems for the retail market, will also participate in the marketing effort, offering panels through its franchise network of over 570 qualified installers throughout Italy.