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Green Light For Sharp, EGP & ST Joint Venture ‘3Sun’

The Joint Venture will focus on producing thin-film solar cells in Italy’s largest photovoltaic panel plant and expanding independent photovoltaic power generation businesses in the Europe, Middle East and African regions.

Sharp, Enel Green Power (EGP"), and STMicroelectronics (ST) have established ‘3Sun’, a joint venture company for the production of thin-film solar cells. They have signed a binding commitment for project financing agreement for €150 million for the development of what will be Italy's biggest photovoltaic panel factory.

The 3Sun equal share joint venture enters its operational phase, in line with the agreement signed by the three partners on January 4th, 2010, with its statutory bodies having been appointed today. The goal of the joint venture is to start operations at the Catania factory for the integrated production of innovative photovoltaic cells and panels. The factory will be Italy's largest photovoltaic panel manufacturer from the first day of operation.

The Sicilian factory's initial photovoltaic panel production capacity is to be financed through a combination of self-financing, funding from the CIPE (the Italian Joint Ministerial Committee for Economic planning) - which recently set aside €49 million for this project - and project financing provided by leading banks. Each partner has underwritten one third of the equity with a commitment of €70 million in cash or in tangible and intangible assets.

Each partner brings specialist knowledge and skills to 3Sun. EGP is an expert in developing renewable energy on an international scale and in project management. Sharp will contribute its exclusive triple-junction III-V thin-film technology, which has been in use since spring this year at the Sakai factory in Japan. ST has the manufacturing know-how with highly trained specialists in state-of-the-art technology sectors such as microelectronics.

3Sun will start the production of thin-film solar cells in the second half of 2011 by utilizing the existing facility of ST in Catania, Sicily Region, Italy. The thin-film solar cell plant will start operation with an initial annual production capacity of 160 MW, which is scheduled to be expanded to an annual production capacity of 480 MW in the future. The thin-film solar cells produced in this plant will be marketed mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean area through the sales networks of Sharp and EGP.

 

In addition, on July 22, 2010 Sharp and EGP also created a separate joint venture, ‘Enel Green Power & Sharp Solar Energy’ (ESSE). This company will focus onthe construction and joint management of solar farms for the generation and sale of electricity in the Mediterranean region. The company will be based in Rome in the Lazio Region of Italy, with EGP, Sharp and Sharp Electronics (Italia) holding 50%, 40% and 10% investment respectively.

ESSE will establish power generation plants with a total power generation capacity of more than 500 MW by the end of 2016. The firm will use the thin-film solar cells produced by the 3Sun plant in Catania, and extend its IPP business to Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a focus on the Mediterranean area.

Thin-film solar cells are suitable for large-scale photovoltaic power generation, especially in the Mediterranean areas including Southern Europe (EMEA). As compared to silicon type solar cells, the thin-film solar cells are able to maintain their conversion efficiency even in hot climates.

Through collaboration with a power company, Sharp aims to become a total solution company in the photovoltaic field, initiating the world’s first business model extending from thin-film solar cell production to IPP business.
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