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E.U. grants aid to Sharp, Enel, STMicroelectronics merger for Italian PV investment

European Commission

Image by tiseb via Flickr

The European Commission has granted 49.06 million euros ($69.99 million) in aid to the joint venture of Sharp Corporation, Enel Green Power SPA, and STMicroelectronics for photovoltaic investment in eastern Italy.

The joint venture created the company 3Sun SrL, which will invest 358.68 million euros for the production of PV modules in Catania, an Italian city in the east coast of Sicily.

The plant will produce thin-film PV modules with a projected 240 megawatts per year production capacity. It’s completion is expected by the end of 2012.

Italy generated 193 gigawatt-hours of electricity from solar PV in 2008, estimated by the International Energy Agency.

The country, having a low standard of living and high employment, is eligible for aid under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union aside from the fact that Italy’s gross domestic product is over $2 trillion.

According to the commission, the joint venture is aligned with the European Union’s rules and requirements of Regional Aid Guidelines. Its renewable energy investment, which brings in development in the island, is valued more than the possible distortions of competition.

Italy spewed 407.87 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2009, making it the 13th highest emitter in the world.

The commission apportioned the aid according to the defined threshold in market share and production capacity, which are outlined in the guidelines.

The commission’s assessment concluded that both 3Sun’s and Sharp’s individual market shares on the global market for PV products are below the 25 percent threshold before and after the investment.

The additional production capacity brought by the project would not raise concerns too, the commission said, even if the double-digit growth in PV and overall economic growth for the European Economic Area are taken into account.

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