Sharp, Enel and STMicroelectronics update on thin-film plant: named 3Sun

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The planned 500MW thin film plant, to be developed by Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics, has been given a boost with €49 million funding from the CIPE (the Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic planning). The JV has also been given a name: 3Sun. Sharp and Enel have also established a separate company called ESSE which will develop solar farms using the output in the plants in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean area.

The partners reiterated that 3Sun would have an initial capacity of 160MW per year, using Sharp’s triple-junction thin-film technology, which started production in the spring of this year at new plant in Sakai, Japan with 10% module efficiencies. The facility based in Catania was a former 300mm semiconductor fab shell, which STMicro had built but never used. The initial investment for the 160MW nameplate capacity was put at €150 million.

The total installed capacity of the plant is projected to be over 500MW by 2016, a figure higher than originally claimed. Module production is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2011. Initailly, the ramp was expected to start in early 2011.

The separate JV between Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy (ESSE) will work closely with Enel.si, a subsidiary of Enel Green Power, which handles the installation of PV systems for the retail market. Enel.si will also take part in the marketing and selling of the modules through its own franchise network of over 500 installers, located throughout Italy.

However, as with other thin-film producers the need to develop solar power plants to maintain high-factory utilization rates to remain cost competitive, Sharp and Enel are targeting projects across Europe the Middle East and Africa.

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