Italian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power (EGP) has signed a grant agreement with the European Commission to build a solar panel gigafactory in Italy.

The grant will be offered under the European Union’s (EU) first Innovation Fund to build an industrial-scale bifacial photovoltaic (PV) module production facility.

Named the Italian PV Giga Factory (TANGO), the facility will be built at EGP’s 3Sun solar panel factory in Catania, Sicily.

The EU’s grant will increase EGP’s total solar module manufacturing capacity from 200MW to 3GW.

EGP CEO Salvatore Bernabei said: “The TANGO project will contribute towards the achievement of EU’s increased ambitions of 40% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, alongside helping reduce energy dependency.

“The gigafactory will promote a circular economy concept, creating a more sustainable and resilient European supply chain, from the design phase to the new models of reusing components at the end of their life cycle.

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“Looking ahead, the TANGO project has a high potential for scalability and can become a model for other gigawatt-scale PV factories to be developed in Europe over the coming years.”

EGP will invest €600m ($659m) for the capacity expansion, in combination with EU funding worth nearly €118m ($129m).

By September next year, the company plans to bring 400MW of TANGO’s capacity online, with the entire 3GW of capacity expected to be operational by July 2024.

Once operational, the TANGO facility will produce bifacial heterojunction (B-HJT) PV cells and incorporate a tandem cell structure to increase the efficiency of PV modules by 30%.

In addition, the facility is expected to create nearly 1,000 direct and indirect jobs locally by 2024.

The 3GW panels could generate around 5.5TWh of renewable electricity a year, offsetting the equivalent of around 25 million tonnes of carbon emissions in their first ten years of operation.

EGP is a component company of Enel Group.