Enel to Build a $1 Billion Solar Cell and Module Factory in Oklahoma
The 3 GW facility is likely to be the first in the U.S. to produce solar cells incorporating HJT
Electric Utility Enel North America, through its affiliate 3Sun USA, will construct a 3 GW large-scale solar module manufacturing facility in Oklahoma. Estimated to cost over $1 billion, the planned factory is claimed to be among the first in the U.S. to produce solar cells incorporating bifacial heterojunction technology (HJT).
Expected to begin construction in the fall of 2023, the project will create around 1,000 new direct permanent jobs by 2025. There is also a potential for a second phase to scale the factory to reach 6 GW of annual production, creating an additional 900 new direct jobs, the company said.
“We are proud to help usher in a new era of American-made energy and do so with a state already a leader in the energy industry. Our selection of Oklahoma is a testament to the strength of the Tulsa Port of Inola site, the state’s commitment to workforce development, and an attractive investment climate,” said Giovanni Bertolino, head of 3Sun USA. “With this announcement, we are taking a major step forward in developing a module factory, bringing hundreds of jobs and millions in long-term tax revenue while moving Oklahoma to the forefront of renewables manufacturing.”
For over a decade, Enel has channeled investments totaling $3 billion toward expanding its operations within the state. The extensive investment has facilitated the development of 13 wind farms and the establishment of a regional office in Oklahoma City.
Last September, 3Sun introduced their new HJT solar module, set to begin production in September 2023. This module utilizes double-sided HJT technology, generating approximately 15-20% more electricity than traditional single-sided panels. 3Sun claims a certified cell efficiency of 24.6% and offers enhanced durability, resulting in a longer lifespan.
Additionally, 3Sun stated it is working on its next-generation tandem cell technology, which achieved a certified efficiency record of 26.5% in May 2023. This tandem technology employs stacked cells, enabling greater light absorption than single-cell structures.
Last August, Enel reached an agreement with the Norwegian Climate Investment Fund and Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP. The agreement involved the acquisition of a 49% stake in Enel’s Thar Surya 1 solar power project in Rajasthan, India. The project has a capacity of 420 MW and is estimated to cost approximately ₹2.8 billion (~$33.8 million).
Last April, Enel and the European Commission signed the grant agreement under the framework of the EU’s first Innovation Fund call for large-scale projects that will contribute to developing TANGO, a solar module Gigafactory in Italy.