In an attempt to support Enel’s plan to boost production and become Europe’s main site for solar panels, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday that her country will invest in its photovoltaic panel factory in Sicily.
“There are 90 million euros ($97 million) for this project from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP)… which will allow the current factory to strengthen itself and for a further new production line to be established,” Meloni said at the end of her visit to the 3Sun plant, in the city of Catania.
“Our bet is for Catania to become one of the most important hubs in solar panel production,” she added.
The current production capacity of the factory is approximately 200 megawatts (MW) a year. And it is set to expand to 3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of this year, with a six month delay compared with what was initially announced by Enel in 2022.
The aim of the project is to create 700 new jobs by the end of 2024, and a further 1,000 indirectly, in companies working with the 3Sun plant. This is coming at a time, when the European Union is seeking to speed up the switch to renewables and end its dependence on gas imported from Russia.
Meloni, who took charge in October 2022, has pledged to boost renewables in the south to try to tackle decades of under-development.
“We want and we need to be competitive in this sector compared to Asian players,” Meloni said on Saturday.
Enel had in January, secured a 560 million euro financial package from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a group of Italian banks, led by UniCredit, for site expansion.
More funds are expected from the EU’s innovation fund for green technology projects. Talks are ongoing with investors about possibly selling 50% in the factory, some sources said, as gathered by Reuters.