STMicro opens Italy's biggest PV panel plant -

STMicro, along with its partners Sharp and Enel Green Power, have opened up an enormous photovoltaic plant in Italy with their energy-focused umbrella company, 3Sun

The plant was opened in Catania, Sicily. It aims to capitalise on the growing popularity of solar power in the European region, in which Italy is a strong advocate. 280 people have been employed to keep the factory up and running, and it expects that initially, panel production capacity should be about 160 MW each year. Though there is potential to bump that figure up to 480 MW in the near future.

It's the largest solar factor in Italy, says STMicro, and also one of the biggest in Europe. 

While Chinese solar panel productions face a stock glut, the common argument among household-name vendors like 3Sun and Sanyo is that many of China's firms put money into production, not efficiency.

The factory follows 2010's agreement between ST, Sharp and Enel to focus on the big business that is panel production.

It will primarily supply the solar power markets in the EMEA area. Meanwhile, Enel and Sharp have another joint venture called ESSE, which works on EMEA contracts with output targets of above 500MW by 2016.