On Friday, a new photovoltaic module factory was inaugurated near Catania, Sicily.
You may recall the recent vote in Italy that quashed the possibility of a nuclear power revival.
Well, this has allowed for a spike in solar energy surpassed only by Germany.
The nation had a goal of an 8GW solar capacity by 2020, and by the end of June 2011 they had surpassed this.
At this rate, says Fulvio Conti, CEO of Enel (BIT: ENEL), Italy is now on track for 30GW of solar capacity by 2020.
And this is even despite a cut of solar incentives in Rome, Reuters reports.
Some are confident that Italy will soon achieve solar grid-parity, putting other energy sources in competition with this renewable alternative.
So this PV factory, the largest in Italy, is another great solar success.
Owned equally by Sharp (PINK: SHCAY), Enel Green Power (BIT: EGPW), and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), this factory is built in an old wafer fabrication plant owned by STM, and the new plant has been christened “3Sun”.
Each company put in an initial investment of $100 million, and the total cost is estimated at $572.2 million.
The plant was built with an initial production capacity of 160 megawatts a year, which is expected to increase to 480MW a year as soon as 2014.
One plan for these modules is use in a joint venture by Sharp and Enel Green Power, called Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy, or ESSE.
ESSE aims to install 500MW of solar capacity in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa by 2016.
Where better to get the resources than the largest photovoltaic module factory in Italy?
Other modules will be sold by Sharp and Enel Green Power at their own facilities.
The agreement for 3Sun was signed in August 2010, and the plant is expected to be operating as early as the end of 2011.
Though solar only accounts for about 0.5% of Italy’s energy, it’s growing at an unexpected and exponential rate.
Look out, Germany, Italy’s catching up.
That’s all for now,