Multinational renewable-energy corporation Enel Green Power has started a technology conversion project at its 3SUN factory, in Catania, Italy, to enable the facility to become the exclusive manufacturer of heterojunction technology (HJT) bifacial photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The HJT bifacial PV panels feature the junction of two different kinds of silicon - amorphous and crystalline - allowing for particularly high yields.
Enel will invest €100-million in the technology conversion programme.
Enel Green Power head Antonio Cammisecra on Friday presented the factory's development plan, called 3SUN 2.0, which comprises three stages.
The first, which will start in the second quarter of this year, involves the installation of a new assembly line for crystalline cells to be used to manufacture bifacial panels. The assembly line will have a maximum production capacity of 80 MW a year.
The second stage involves installing a new production line for HJT cells, which will be operational starting from the first quarter of 2019, and with a maximum production capacity of 110 MW a year.
The third stage will increase the HJT production capacity to 200 MW a year in the third quarter of 2019. Production capacity may eventually reach 250 MW a year upon future optimisations.
The factory, which will produce about 500 000 PV panels a year, will operate for 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
"We are especially proud of this project, which is based on technological research and innovation, two essential drivers for a company like Enel," Enel chairperson Patrizia Grieco said.
"This new production line will let us strengthen our worldwide leadership in the renewables sector, while at the same time boosting the expansion of our technological hub in Catania, proudly established in Italy. We expect that this project will stimulate the sector's entire value chain in Italy, and photovoltaics in general," enthused Cammisecra.
"The technological leap entailed by the new PV panel is significant, with efficiency rising from the 10% yield of the previous model to around 18% for the 2018 model bifacial panel, and about 20% for bifacial HJT panels from 2019 onwards.
"In 2018, the maximum capacity will reach 360 W per panel and, from 2019 onwards, 395 W per panel, compared to the previous 140 W," the company explained.