The new 3SUN - A Gigafactory built in the sign of sustainability
The factory based in Catania is part of a virtuous journey focused on sustainability and circularity, both when it comes to its construction materials and processes, and for the choice of responsible suppliers that are supporting us while we bring tomorrow's solar plant into operation
A strategic energy transition project should be sustainable, from start to end. The first aspect to consider is the impact the company's headquarters (i.e. its building) can have on the environment, in terms of building materials, harmful emissions into the air and water, and energy and raw material consumption. Because of that, here at 3SUN, we designed our new factory in Catania with the goal of making it sustainable, starting from the new 50,000 sqm building (which will complement the current 50,000 sqm space dedicated to the production of HJT solar cells), which will be completed in 2024, and will house an annual production of 3GW solar modules.
Sustainable and circular techniques for the new building
The new Gigafactory building wants to be a virtuous example of sustainability and circularity, by adhering to the highest standards, and being equipped with cutting-edge facilities. Targeted choices were made to achieve this ambitious goal. Concerning the environment, we bet on the use of recycled raw materials (concrete, steel and copper) to build the factory. In particular, concrete was made using local cement (from Augusta) with a high content of recycled material, compared to standard concrete, which allowed us to reduce CO2 production of our factory foundations by 30%. The plastic used to build the crawlspace comprising 95K igloos underneath the building floor was obtained almost exclusively from recycled sources. Moreover, for roof slabs, we replaced traditional electro-welded mesh with synthetic fibres, thus reducing our carbon footprint by 75%, and the pre-existing reverse osmosis system will help us reduce water consumption during production. For our construction site, we opted for low-energy lighting and adopted waste sorting and recycling practices, for construction-related waste. In particular, the soil excavated during construction was reused internally, or disposed of off site to be reused on other construction sites, ensuring its full recovery.
Choosing a supplier is also a matter of sustainability
We prioritized sustainability already while searching for the contractors that are building the Gigafactory, and for production line suppliers.
In the tender phase, specific factors pertaining to social, environmental and occupational health and safety aspects were privileged, with the purpose of favouring the most virtuous applicants. Meanwhile, specific sustainability and circularity requirements were agreed with winning tenderers, such as the use of recycled raw materials and low-energy solutions.
This stakeholder engagement approach led to the direct involvement of our contractors in any project and building choices, resulting, in some cases, to them suggesting the most sustainable solutions available.
3SUN and the sustainability roadmap
Sustainability is a fundamental aspect to 3SUN, and while its application starts from the foundation of the new Gigafactory building, it will branch out to 3SUN's entire business. We have set strict goals on the three ESG (environment, social and governance) dimensions, along the entire value chain. The journey we've embarked on will help us integrate sustainability and circularity in the supply of our PV panel materials, in the way we operate our factory, and also in the way we present ourselves to our customers.
To us, sustainability is a conscious choice to help build a better future.