Consumer electronics producer Sharp Corporation is set to take advantage of the potential growth of the photovoltaic sector in the Mediterranean with a joint venture agreement with Enel Green Power and ST Microelectronics.
The new company will produce thin-film solar cells at STM's existing facilities in Catania, Italy by 2011 for independent power producer business IPP. The initial annual production capacity is expected to be 160MW, which is likely to expand to an annual production capacity of 480MW in the future. It will represent the single most important production facility for solar panels in Italy claimed ST Microelectronics in a recent statement. Sales and marketing aimed mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean will be done by Sharp and EGP.
In addition to financing from the banks, each company will invest approximately 70 million Euros each.
An electricity generating company will be set up between Sharp and EGP who will establish power generation plants using the thin-film solar cells. Total generating capacity is expected to exceed 500MW by the end of December 2016.
Thin-film solar cells are especially suitable for large-scale photovoltaic power generation, especially in Mediterranean areas including Southern Europe. As compared to silicon type solar cells, the thin-film solar cells are able to maintain their conversion efficiency even in hot climates.
Catania represents an ideal location as it takes full advantage of an existing semiconductor plant and related facilities as well as of very important workforce skilled in silicon-based manufacturing. In addition, Catania hosts Conphoebus, an Enel research center fully dedicated to renewable sources, solar in particular, and energy savings. Moreover, Sicily is one of the key regions in the Mediterranean area for the development of solar farms and provides a unique location for all logistics necessary to reach the neighboring markets.
The project is conditional upon approval by the relevant authorities.
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