Sharp Corporation is exiting its a-Si thin-film joint venture in Europe with Enel at a cost of around US$141 million.
Established in 2010, 3Sun produced a-Si thin-film modules at a former unused 300MM semiconductor fab owned by STMicroelectronics and was supplying modules to Enel Green Power projects in Southern Europe.
Sharp said in a statement that a deterioration in the European economy, downward revisions of many European countries feed-in tariff mechanisms and steeper than expected ASP declines were behind the move to exit the JV.
Sharp had previously halted production and subsequently closed its crystalline silicon module assembly plant in Wrexham, UK. The company has expanded its PV business since the Fukushima nuclear disaster under Japan’s new FiT system and outsourcing over 50% of supply chain requirements, including c-Si cells and modules to companies in China and Taiwan.
Although Sharp is relinquishing is 50% ownership in 3Sun to Enel through a share repurchase, the company said it would continue to cooperate with Enel on the downstream business opportunities and subsequently be a buyer of the modules under EPC supply contracts as when they arise.
The original off-take agreement between Enel Green Power and Sharp meant that the entire output (200MW per annum) of the 3Sun’s Catania facility module production would be purchased by the companies.
In the revised deal Enel Green Power said in a separate statement that it expected a “contribution” from Sharp of €95 million.
Enel Green Power expects to use the 3Sun modules in projects planned for South America and South Africa and said it had a project pipeline in South Africa of over 300MW through 2018.