Enel Starts Bifacial PV Panel Production

Technological Conversion Of Enel's 3SUN Factory In Italy Begins; New Assembly Line With 80 MW Annual Bifacial Panel Production Capacity To Start In Q2/2018
07:55 AM (Beijing Time) - 20. March 2018
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Enel has launched a new assembly line for the production of bifacial crystalline silicon panels in Italy; the second stage will have another production line for HJT cells installed. (Photo Credit: Enel Green Power)

Key Takeaways

  • Enel has started production of bifacial heterojunction (HJT) solar modules at its 3SUN factory in Catania, Italy
  • In Q2/2018, the first stage will kick off with installation of a new 80 MW crystalline cell production line for bifacial panels
  • The second stage will have a production line for HJT cells installed that will become operational in Q1/2019 with a 110 MW capacity
  • During the third stage, HJT production capacity is scheduled to reach 200 MW in Q3/2019, which may eventually touch 250 MW per year, depending upon future optimizations

As planned, Enel Green Power has started production of bifacial, heterojunction (HJT) solar modules at its 3SUN factory in Catania, Italy. The production was scheduled to kick off by early 2018 (see Enel Full Steam In Solar).

The Italian utility had been planning to convert its silicon thin-film 3SUN factory as part of a development plan called 3SUN 2.0. The management has started production with a new assembly line to manufacture bifacial crystalline silicon panels, which will involve installation of a production line for bifacial HJT cells and panels.

The production will ramped up in three stages. During the first stage that will start in the Q2/2018, a new 80 MW production line of crystalline cells of will be installed to assemble bifacial panels.

The second stage will have a production line for HJT cells installed that will become operational in Q1/2019 with a maximum production capacity of 110 MW per year. Though not officially confirmed, according to sources, this turnkey line will be supplied by Meyer Burger from Switzerland. During the third stage, Enel will double the HJT production capacity to reach 200 MW annually in Q3/2019. It may eventually touch 250 MW per year, depending upon future optimizations.

To be operational 24×7 throughout the year, Enel expects the factory to produce 1,400 panels a day, or 500,000 panels a year post technological conversion is complete.

The technological leap entailed by the new photovoltaic panel is significant, with efficiency rising from 10% of the previous model to around 18% for the 2018 bifacial panel, and about 20% for bifacial HJT panels from 2019 onwards.” Enel expects that in 2018 maximum module power rating will reach 360 W, and from 2019 onwards 395 W per panel, compared to the  previous 140 W.

The new bifacial HJT panels are expected to have a lifespan of more than 30 years. The 3SUN factory’s technological conversion program is going to cost €80 million ($98 million). Another €20 million ($24.5 million) will be invested in the Enel Innovation Lab.

“The investments made will allow the plant to grow and strategically position Italy in a crucial global sector. We will beat the competition, especially from Asia, which has very low costs, by focusing on quality,” claims Enzo Bianco, Catania Mayor.

The pioneer in HJT technology has been Panasonic (formerly Sanyo) from Japan, but it does not produce any bifacial modules so far. The most ambitious HJT producer today is Jolywood from China, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar module backsheets (see Market Survey Backsheets for Solar Modules 2017). 

In the same premises as the factory, Enel has set up its Innovation Lab to host start-ups and research laboratories.

 

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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