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Sicily, final ok for the largest EU gigafactory of double-sided photovoltaic modules

Mass production of B-HJT photovoltaic cells starts in July 2024

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Speaks Italian the first factory in Europe of high-performance double-sided photovoltaic on a gigawatt scale. It will be born in Catania from the expansion of the existing 3sun plant of Enel Green Power. Today it has a production capacity of 200MW, in less than 2 and a half years will rise 15 times, reaching 3GW per year in July 2024.

Today came the final ok of the European Commission to co-finance the gigafactory of double-sided pv. The total investment is 600 million euros. Of which 118 will come from Brussels as part of the project TANGO (Italian pv Giga factory). The site for the mass production of new generation photovoltaic panels had been selected by the EU Commission among the 7 most promising initiatives in the first call of the Innovation Fund. Surpassing another 311 proposals from different European countries.

The gigafactory of double-sided pv

In Catania will start the mass production of photovoltaic cells with double-sided heterojunction (B-HJT) that guarantee higher performance and yield. By combining two types of silicon, amorphous and crystalline, the base cell can boast an efficiency of more than 20.5% and a lifespan of over 35 years. In October 2019, when the new double-sided photovoltaic line was inaugurated, the 3sun etnea was the first factory in the world to produce that technology on an industrial scale. The expansion up to 3GW continues the record.

And it brings innovation. The project in fact plans to incorporate in the panels a structure, called “Tandem“, which enhances the overall efficiency. It uses two overlapping cells, which capture more light than the traditional version. The EGP estimate is that the modules can exceed 30%. Overall, the annual production of double-sided panels will generate about 5.5TWh of renewable electricity. Which will avoid entering the atmosphere by almost 25 MtCO2 in the first 10 years of operation.

Read also Thin solar cells, new record efficiencies

Although the increase in production will not be immediate. The first 400 new MW will arrive in the autumn of 2023. The Catania gigafactory contributes to reducing energy dependence on Russia avoiding, at full capacity, the purchase of 1,2 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The average import of Russian gas from Italy, today, beats around 29 billion m3.

A further positive aspect is to bring the production of photovoltaics to Europe. A point was indicated as a priority at the end of March by EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. “Global demand for photovoltaic solar modules is growing at an accelerated pace,” said Francesco Starace, at Enel. “The origin of the supplies of these important components represents a weak point in the global supply chain and we see the need to rebalance its geographical distribution that today is excessively dependent on a single source in Asia. This investment will bring back 3,000 MW of production capacity per year in Europe and will mark a great step forward for Italy in maintaining its technological leadership”.

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