Enel selects Oklahoma for solar PV cell and module production

Enel solar panel factory
The over 2 million square foot, 3 GW factory represents a planned investment in excess of 1 billion USD, creating over 1,800 construction jobs.

Enel North America, through its affiliate 3Sun USA, selected Inola, Okla., as the location for its U.S.-based solar PV manufacturing — a site that crucially will include cells and panels. This is an initial investment in excess of $1 billion and is anticipated to create around 1,000 new direct permanent jobs by 2025. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023.

The factory is expected to have an annual production capacity of 3 GW. If all goes according to plan, the first panels will be available to the market by the end of 2024. The project includes the potential for a second phase that would scale the factory to reach 6 GW of annual production.

“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 state-of-the-art PV factory, bringing hundreds of jobs and millions in long-term tax revenue, while moving Oklahoma to the forefront of renewables manufacturing.”

Enel has a history in Oklahoma. During the last decade it has invested $3 billion to expand its footprint in the state, which now includes 13 wind farms and a regional office in Oklahoma City to support its growing workforce.

Also cool: This factory is located in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. “We also look to mobilize current tribal services such as Employment & Training and Tribal Transportation Services for the empowerment and betterment of our communities,” stated Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill.

So, many of those aforementioned jobs could include Cherokee Nation.

“We are proud to collaborate with our regional partners and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for a business expansion effort that will bring long-term quality jobs to the Cherokee Nation Reservation,” stated Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “With Enel North America establishing a production facility in Rogers County, we are seeing a positive step forward in advancing alternative energy efforts and promoting green energy manufacturing in a Cherokee community. The talented workforce required for this kind of expansion will largely be Cherokee and it will have a tremendous economic impact for local families.”

The state of Oklahoma is celebrating this investment and additional jobs despite the best efforts of the state’s politicians to derail the Inflation Reduction Act.

The entire Oklahoma Congressional delegation voted against the Inflation Reduction Act. The entire Oklahoma delegation in the House of Representatives also voted for Speaker McCarthy’s proposal to defund the clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. Rep. Brecheen (OK-02) is also a cosponsor for legislation that “repeals the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”

Enel’s solar cells

The planned factory will be among the first in the United States to produce solar cells — and given the domestic content guidance from Treasury this month, that is a significant competitive advantage. The panels will incorporate bifacial heterojunction technology (HJT).

3Sun in Catania (Italy) unveiled the company’s new HJT solar module in September 2022, which will begin production in September 2023. The double-sided HJT can secure higher than average energy production, producing approximately 15-20% more electricity than conventional single-sided panels, and offers significant efficiency improvements, with a certified cell efficiency of 24.6%.

In addition, the technology’s lower degradation ensures a longer useful life for modules, and the cells’ high density is conducive to a variety of applications, including land-constrained utility-scale installations or rooftops.

In the near future, 3Sun will introduce its next generation tandem cell technology, which in May 2023 broke a record achieving a certified efficiency of 26.5%. The tandem technology utilizes two stacked cells that allows for more light to be captured compared to single-cell structures.

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