Enel Green Power, the renewable energy division of power generation group Enel, has secured a financing agreement with UniCredit to support the expansion of a solar panel factory in Catania, Sicily. The agreement, valued at €560 million (approximately US$600 million), will aid the development of the Italian PV Gigafactory, also known as Tango, which is an industrial-scale manufacturing facility for PVmodules under Enel Green Power’s subsidiary, 3Sun. The financing will enable the factory’s capacity to increase 15 times its current level to 3GW per year from the present 200MW.
The Company announced that the first 400MW of the expanded solar panel factory in Catania, Sicily is scheduled to become operational in September 2023, with the entire expansion expected to be fully operational by July 2024. The plant will feature bifacial heterojunction (B-HJT) PV cells that can capture light on both the front and back surfaces. The PV panels will also utilize a structure called Tandem, which involves two stacked cells that increase light capture efficiency over single-cell structures. Enel Green Power has stated that combining these features will enable the PV modules to achieve an efficiency ratio of over 30%.
Francesco Starace, Enel’s CEO and General Manager said that “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”.
The Italian PV Gigafactory will produce 3GW of solar panels per year, which has the potential to generate approximately 5.5TWh of renewable electricity annually.
The CEO of UniCredit, Andrea Orcel, stated that “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”.
According to a Reuters report last week, NextEnergy Capital, a renewables investor and asset manager, is in the process of acquiring a minority share in the facility. The project was granted €118 million of investment funding from the European Commission last year as part of its inaugural Innovation Fund for large-scale initiatives.