Enel Green Power inks €560 million deal for solar panel factory in Italy


The expansion of the factory will result in a 15-fold increase in its capacity to 3GW a year. Image: Enel

The renewable energy arm of power generation group Enel has signed a financing agreement with banking group UniCredit to finance the expansion of a solar panel factory in Catania, Sicily.

The investment, worth €560 million (US$600 million), will contribute to the development of the Italian PV Gigafactory (Tango), an industrial-scale manufacturing plant for PV modules at Enel Green Power company 3Sun. In line with the agreement, the expansion of the factory will result in a 15-fold increase in its capacity to 3GW a year from the current 200MW.

The first 400MW is expected to be operational in September 2023, while the entire expansion will be fully operational by July 2024. The production plant will include bifacial heterojunction (B-HJT) PV cells that can respond to light on both front and back surfaces. The PV panels will also incorporate a structure called Tandem, which uses two stacked cells that allow more light to be captured than single-cell structures. 

The company claimed that by combining bi-facial PV panels and Tandem cell structure, the PV modules could exceed an efficiency ratio of more than 30%. 

“The solar module factory will be at the forefront in terms of innovative technology and automation of industrial processes and will contribute to the EU’s goal of achieving 40% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, as well as help reduce energy dependence,” said Francesco Starace, CEO and general manager of Enel.

The 3GW of panels produced annually by the gigafactory will be enough to generate up to about 5.5TWh of renewable electricity per year. 

“For UniCredit, sustainable finance is essential to supporting the energy transition, providing concrete solutions to accelerate the journey of our customers and the communities in which we operate toward a more equitable and sustainable future,” said Andrea Orcel, CEO of UniCredit. 

Last week, Reuters reported that renewables investor and asset manager NextEnergy Capital was poised to buy a minority stake in the facility.

The project received a €118 million investment grant from the European Commission last year as part of its first Innovation Fund for large-scale projects.

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