Italian energy giant Enel announced plans on April 25, 2022 to increase the annual production capacity of its 3Sun plant in Catania, Sicily, by 15 times, in order to accelerate the energy transition and counter China’s dominance in this market.
A “gigafactory” powered by European funds
According to Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, this move represents a strategic move for Italy and Europe. The gigafactory will have an annual capacity of 3 gigawatts when completed in mid-2024, making it “the largest solar panel factory in Europe,” according to the CEO.
The total investment amounts to €600 million, of which €188 million comes from European funds earmarked for the post-Covid recovery plan and for innovative renewable energy projects. Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, Italian Minister of the Environment, has emphasized the political significance of the project: it will allow Italy to free itself from foreign dependence “especially Chinese” regarding renewable energy.
Jobs created, gases saved and emissions reduced
The ambitious work is expected to be completed progressively between September 2023 and July 2024. Once operational, the plant will produce enough renewable electricity each year to replace up to 1.2 billion m3 of non-renewable gas normally sourced from Russia. In addition, with the 25 million tons of CO2 that will be banished each year for 10 years during the operation of the solar panels, the group believes that its project will make a major contribution to reducing global emissions from fossil fuels. In addition, it will create 900 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs throughout the construction period.
Enel has long been committed to sustainable development. The 59 gigawatts (GW) of power produced by its subsidiary Green Power has enabled the group to achieve a relatively futuristic rate of 48% in renewable energy, 40% thermal and 12% nuclear recognized worldwide as an exceptional technological advance respectful of green principles.