Italian energy group Enel has entered exclusive talks to sell a stake in 3Sun, its photovoltaic panel production site in Sicily. According to two sources close to the matter, British solar energy specialist NextEnergy Capital is in a position to buy a minority stake in Enel’s 3Sun giant solar panels factory.
The plant’s current production capacity of around 200 megawatts (MW) per year will rise to 3 gigawatts (GW) by July 2024, making it the biggest factory in Europe, according to Enel. The total investment for the factory is estimated at $646.20 million, of which around 190 million will be granted by the European Union. The project to build new generation panels in Sicily is part of the EU’s effort to speed up the switch to renewables, ending dependence on Russian gas and helping reduce the reliance on Chinese solar materials.
The European Union is trying to speed up the development of clean energy technologies by offering tax credits and domestic subsidies to companies—a move designed in part to keep pace with US President Joe Biden’s landmark green package. The EU as a whole aims to reach almost 600 GW of solar energy by 2030, as the number of installations is increasing.
3sun in North America
In November, Enel announced it would build a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and panel manufacturing facility in the United States in an effort to support the creation of a North American supply chain. The facility would have a potential capacity of up to 6 gigawatts, opening a door for domestic renewable energy production that can help meet the rapidly increasing demand in the country.
Enel says the planned facility, through its solar panel and cell maker 3Sun, is expected to be among the first in the US to produce solar cells. There are currently fewer than five large-scale solar manufacturing sites of greater than 1 GW in the US, while demand for solar energy rapidly increases, according to the company.