EU backs Enel Green Power’s solar panel Gigafactory in Italy


Italy – Enel Green Power (EGP) and the European Commission have signed a grant agreement to support the development of TANGO (iTaliAN pv Giga factOry), an industrial-scale manufacturing facility for high-performance photovoltaic (PV) modules at EGP’s 3Sun solar panel factory in Catania, Sicily.

According to the agreement, the factory’s expansion will result in a 15-fold increase in production capacity, from 200 MW to 3 GW per year. After starting with the first 400 MW in September 2023, the 3 GW production facility is expected to be fully operational by July 2024, making 3Sun Europe’s largest gigawatt-scale factory producing high-performance bifacial PV modules.

The total investment in the construction of the 3 GW production facility is estimated to be around 600 million euros, with EGP’s contribution supplemented by nearly 118 million euros in EU funding. By 2024, this investment is expected to create approximately 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in the local area, as well as serve as a catalyst for the relaunch of a European PV value chain.

Tandem structure

Bifacial heterojunction (B-HJT) PV cells, which can respond to light from both the front and back surfaces, will be included in 3Sun’s production. The PV panels will be further developed through an ambitious R&D program to include a structure called “Tandem,” which uses two stacked cells to capture more light than single-cell structures, resulting in higher overall efficiency. The combination of bifacial PV panels and a “Tandem” cell structure offers significant efficiency gains, allowing PV modules to achieve efficiency levels of more than 30% and securing higher average energy production.

The Gigafactory’s 3 GW of panels per year can generate up to 5.5 TWh of renewable electricity per year, which has the potential to save the equivalent of nearly 25 million tons of CO2 in the first ten years of operation. Similarly, the output generated by the Gigafactory’s panels has the potential to save up to 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas per year, which could be replaced with domestically produced renewable energy.

Best practices

By increasing the use of environmentally friendly, recycled materials and reducing energy and resource consumption, the Gigafactory is being designed and built in accordance with sustainable and circular best practices.

In addition, the factory is fully engaged in R&D in collaboration with international research centers, leading companies in the sector, and start-ups, with the goal of developing new recycling processes for end-of-life PV modules management through material recovery and reuse in a fully circular perspective. The use of highly automated procedures as well as sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms, for example, will greatly improve manufacturing process control, resulting in significant scrap reduction.