Enel Green Power (EGP) has signed a grant agreement with the European Commission for a 3GW PV module plant in Catania, Italy, with an R&D commitment to pursue tandem cell production in the coming years.
Under the European Union’s first Innovation Fund for large-scale projects, it will contribute to the development of TANGO (iTaliAN pv Giga factOry) with a total investment of around €600 million (US$662 million). Additional funding from the EU of €118 million will help increase by 15-fold its current 200MW capacity. and will include the manufacture of bifacial heterojunction PV cells.
The 3Sun plant is expected to be fully commissioned by July 2024, with a first line with a capacity of 400MW set to begin production in September 2023.
Enel said 3Sun’s lines will also produce heterojunction bifacial panels and further teased the development of modules featuring tandem cell structures in the future, but provided no specific timeline for this. While heterojunction modules are already commercially available, tandem cells are still considered to be some years away from commercialisation.
Francesco Starace, CEO of the Enel Group, said: “The sourcing footprint of these important components is a weak point in the global supply chain and we see the need to rebalance its geographic spread that is today excessively dependent on a single Asian source. This investment will place 3,000 MW per year of production capacity back in Europe and will mark for Italy a big step in retaining leadership in technology.”
Salvatore Bernabei, CEO of Enel Group Power, said about the TANGO project that it has “high potential” for scalability and could be a model for other gigawatt-scale PV factories to be developed in Europe.
“The TANGO project will contribute towards the achievement of EU’s increased ambitions of 40% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, alongside helping reduce energy dependency,” added Bernabei.
Earlier this year, EGP was one of the major European solar developers to call on the European Union to develop a PV supply chain strategy for Europe.