UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Italy to host Europe’s first solar gigafactory


Solar panel being made in factory Photo: Enel Green Power
HJT photovoltaic panel

Photo: Enel Green Power

Enel is to expand its 3Sun solar panel manufacturing facility in Sicily to create what the company claims will be the first gigafactory of its kind in Europe, mass producing panels that capture the sun’s energy on both sides of the photovoltaic (PV) cell. Located in Catania, the factory is already one of the largest solar panel production plants in Europe.

The planned expansion will increase the factory’s current annual production capacity of 200 MW to about 3 GW/y, initially developing PV modules using silicon heterojunction technology (HJT), which offers improved performance compared with conventional technologies, according to Enel. The company then plans to implement ‘ground-breaking tandem technology’ that allows the sun’s energy to be captured on both sides of the solar panel and is claimed increases the efficiency of the PV cells to 30% (current technology has an efficiency of around 20%) while also improving panel reliability.


The expansion process will consist of two stages, reports Enel – an operational capacity of 400 MW will be available from September 2023, while full operational capacity will be reached by July 2024. Tandem PV modules will be produced from late 2025.


The programme is expected to cost some €600mn, of which €188mn will come from grants received from the European Commission via the European Union’s pandemic recovery and innovation funds.


The project is of ‘strategic importance for Italy’s energy security and independence’ and will ‘help strengthen the renewable supply chain in Europe’, decreasing its dependence on China, which dominates global PV production, according to Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, Italy’s Minister of the Environment and Energy Security.


Speaking at a recent visit to the Catania plant, he noted that production from the gigafactory would help support the Italian government’s commitment to build 8–10 GW/y of renewable energy capacity, which he said will be ‘essential’ to achieving the country’s decarbonisation targets.