Operations to start at Italy's largest PV panel factory with 3Sun joint venture financing.

Source: STMicroelectronics

Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics have signed a binding letter of commitment for a project financing agreement for EU150 million (US 196.7 million) for the development of what will be Italy's biggest photovoltaic panel factory. 

The 3Sun equal share joint venture thus enters its operational phase, in line with the agreement signed by the three partners on January 4th, 2010, with its statutory bodies having been appointed today. The goal of the joint venture is to start operations at the Catania factory for the integrated production of innovative photovoltaic cells and panels. 

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 euros for this project - and project financing provided by leading banks. Each partner has underwritten one third of the equity - with a commitment of EU70 million (US 91.8 Million) in cash or in tangible and intangible assets, as previously announced - 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 expert 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 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. 

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 extensive sales networks. Enel.si, a subsidiary of Enel Green Power specialized in the installation of photovoltaic systems for the retail market, will also take part in the marketing, selling panels through its own franchise network of over 500 approved installers, located throughout Italy.

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