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Italian demand for green energy prompts massive investment

A consortium of manufacturers is to invest almost $3 billion in Italian solar power ventures.

Japan’s Sharp Corp, Italy’s Enel SpA and a third manufacturer hope to tap growing demand for cleaner energy.


Sharp, the world’s second largest maker of solar cells, said it and Italy’s largest power company Enel planned to spend about 100 billion yen ($1.05 billion) to set up solar power generating plants in Italy with a total generating capacity of 189 megawatts by the end of 2012.

They also plan to build a factory in Italy to produce thin-film solar cells, aiming for initial output of 480 megawatts in 2010 and ultimately raise output to about 1 gigawatts. Sharp said total initial investment is likely to be at least 72 billion yen, and analysts expect that investment to more than double to more than 150 billion yen when the factory reaches full capacity.

The Japanese consumer electronics maker is stepping up investment in an effort to retake market share from number one solar cell maker Q-Cells of Germany, whose aggressive capital spending plans outstrip those of its rivals.

The venture’s solar power plants are to be built mainly in southern Italy, and the two firms will also consider power generating business in other Mediterranean countries, Sharp said.

Sharp, which is seeking fees for equipment and technology, will take a 34 percent stake in the solar power generating venture and Enel will hold the rest. Sharp will also take a minority stake in the solar cell venture.