3Sun: EUR 560 million for Europe's largest Gigafactory
3Sun, Enel Green Power's photovoltaic cell and modules production gigafactory, has secured a 560 million euro financial package to back the expansion of its production capacity, in a significant milestone for Europe’s energy transition and security. The financing was made possible through a collaborative effort between the European Investment Bank (EIB), supported by InvestEU, and a pool of Italian banks, led by UniCredit and comprising BPER Banca (Corporate & Investment Banking) and Banco BPM, backed by SACE.
Located in Catania, Sicily, 3Sun’s existing production capacity of approximately 200 megawatts (MW) a year is set to expand to 3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2024, thus becoming the largest solar factory in Europe. In addition to generating enough clean energy production capacity to supply the equivalent of 1 million households a year, the gigafactory is expected to contribute to economic growth in Sicily by creating direct jobs and indirect employment opportunities.
The project is aligned with the broader REPowerEU mission, contributing to the European Union’s target of producing nearly 600 GW of solar energy by 2030 while reducing reliance on gas imports and diversifying sourcing away from Chinese solar components. In July 2023, the EIB committed to providing €45 billion in additional financing to support REPowerEU, including funding to boost European manufacturing in state-of-the-art strategic net-zero technologies.
The gigafactory combines research and innovation to produce high-performance bifacial photovoltaic modules, capturing sunlight from both sides. Its innovative technology makes 3Sun the world’s most automated photovoltaic panel production plant, operating seamlessly on a continuous cycle — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The gigafactory will act as a catalyst for reshoring the PV value chain in Europe, and the project will foster next-generation high-efficiency solar technology in Europe. It will also help reduce the continent’s energy dependence, being a technological hub for the new rise of the European photovoltaic industry.
The financial support totalling €560 million for the construction and operation of Europe’s biggest solar factory was made possible thanks to the support of the consortium of Italian banks, whose commitment is backed by SACE, Italy’s export credit agency, and EIB direct financing backed by the InvestEU programme. The EIB financing also includes intermediated loans to commercial lenders for €118 million, which could be increased to up to €342 million in 2024, bringing the total EIB intervention in support of 3Sun to €389.5 million.
Specifically, the financial structure of the transaction as a result of the signed EIB commitments is as follows:
- €47.5 million EIB loan, backed by InvestEU.
- €147.5 million UniCredit loan, 80% guaranteed by a SACE green guarantee, plus €85 million VAT loan. Out of this €147.5 million, the EIB has committed €118 million of intermediated funding to UniCredit, enabling the Italian bank to improve the financing conditions for 3Sun.
- €140 million Banco BPM loan, 80% guaranteed by a SACE green guarantee.
- €140 million BPER Banca loan, 80% guaranteed by a SACE green guarantee.