Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced on Saturday that Italy will invest €90 million ($97 million) in Enel's photovoltaic panel factory in Sicily, supporting the company's endeavor to enhance production and establish itself as Europe's primary site for solar panels. The funding will be sourced from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).
During her visit to the 3Sun plant in Catania, Meloni stated, “There are 90 million euros for this project from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan… which will allow the current factory to strengthen itself and for a further new production line to be established.” She expressed confidence in Catania becoming a key hub in solar panel production.
The existing production capacity of the 3Sun plant, approximately 200 megawatts (MW) per year, is set to expand to 3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of this year, with a slight delay from Enel's initial announcement in 2022. Meloni emphasized the objective of creating 700 new jobs by the end of 2024 and an additional 1,000 indirectly through collaborations with companies associated with the 3Sun plant.
This expansion aligns with the European Union's efforts to accelerate the transition to renewables and reduce dependence on Russian gas. Meloni, in office since October 2022, aims to strengthen renewable initiatives in the southern region, addressing longstanding under-development issues.
“We want and we need to be competitive in this sector compared to Asian players,” Meloni stated, highlighting the importance of competitiveness in the renewable energy industry.
In January, Enel secured a €560 million financial package from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a consortium of Italian banks, led by UniCredit, to facilitate the expansion. Additional funding for the project will be sourced from the European Union's innovation fund for green technology projects. Enel is also in discussions with potential investors regarding the potential sale of up to 50% of the factory.