Enel North America, through its affiliate 3Sun USA, LLC, last month announced that it has selected Inola, Oklahoma, as the location where it plans to site its industrial-scale manufacturing facility for innovative, sustainable and American-made photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.
The factory, which is expected to have an annual production capacity of 3 gigawatts (GW), represents an initial investment in excess of 1 billion USD and is anticipated to create around 1,000 new direct permanent jobs by 2025. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023, subject to final approvals, necessary permits and economic incentive agreements, and it's anticipated that 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, creating an additional 900 new direct jobs.
"We are proud to help usher in a new era of American-made energy and do so with a state that is 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 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."
The planned factory will be among the first in the United States to produce solar cells, the fundamental building block of PV modules, and will incorporate a high-performance bifacial heterojunction technology (HJT).
"When I took office, I promised to bring Oklahoma to the world, and the world to Oklahoma; and today's historic announcement is a testament to that mission, our business-friendly environment and more of everything energy approach," said Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. "Enel's expansion is a huge win for Oklahoma, and I'm thrilled by their record investment in our state's economy and workforce, that will have a lasting legacy and continue to impact Oklahomans for generations."
Enel has been present in Oklahoma for over a decade during which time it has invested 3 billion USD 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.
3Sun in Catania (Italy) is already a market leader in producing high-efficiency cells, unveiling in September 2022 the company's new HJT solar module, 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.
"The announcement of Enel's investment is a welcome outcome from our months of discussions with company leadership, legislative negotiations and work with site selectors and developers. I appreciate Enel for recognizing the potential in Oklahoma and choosing to expand their footprint here. I also thank my legislative colleagues for passing legislation this year to allow this expansion to happen. These are good, high paying jobs that will attract people to Oklahoma, in turn helping grow and diversify our economy." — Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat
"A project of this scale - bringing over a billion dollars of investment and millions in economic impact to our state - proves pro-business policies we have enacted in recent years are working. We have all the right conditions to continue to get projects of this magnitude, and we must continue to press even harder to make Oklahoma the most business-friendly, and family-friendly, state in the nation." — House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka
"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. Cherokee Nation has consistently been at the local forefront of the movement towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. 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." — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
"We are excited to welcome Enel North America to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and look forward to the opportunities this partnership will bring including sustained regional job creation and growth, new economic prospects, and the development of workforce talent within the greater Tulsa area and our Reservation. To strengthen the Nation's collaborative efforts with existing and in-coming partners like the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Enel North America, we also look to mobilize current tribal services such as Employment & Training and Tribal Transportation Services for the empowerment and betterment of our communities." — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill
"Tulsa Ports is proud to welcome Enel's 3Sun solar panel manufacturing facility to the Tulsa Port of Inola. At the end of 2019, Public Service Company of Oklahoma transferred 2,200 acres of industrial land to Tulsa Ports so that we could develop the necessary infrastructure to attract high-impact economic development projects. With this exciting announcement, we are continuing to fulfill that shared vision and believe that Enel will be a great partner for the long-term economic success and development of the Tulsa Region and the State of Oklahoma." — Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., Board Chairman, Tulsa Ports
"This project got off the ground last May when the Tulsa Regional Chamber and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce held meetings with an Enel executive during the PGA Men's Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. So, it speaks directly to how tourism can be the perfect gateway to economic development. Enel North America has a global reputation for blazing new trails with clean energy, and this long-term commitment to Oklahoma as a solar panel supplier will shine a light on the Port of Inola and its ability to accommodate large-scale development." — Arthur Jackson, senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber
"This is the largest economic development project in state history, bringing over a billion in investment into our state and hundreds of long-term jobs. It was a group effort to get this over the finish line, and we are thankful for the Governor, the Legislature, the Tulsa Port of Inola Industrial Park, Tulsa Regional Chamber and SelectUSA for coming alongside the Department of Commerce to get this deal done. The success of this project proves what we've known for a long time – Oklahoma can support mega projects, both in terms of sites and workforce, and this gives us exciting momentum as we seek more projects like this one." — Brent Kisling, Executive Director, Department of Commerce
About Enel North America
Enel North America, part of the Enel Group
, is a clean energy leader in North America and is working to electrify the economy and build a zero carbon future by decarbonizing energy supply, electrifying transportation, creating resilient grids, and promoting a just, equitable transition. Enel North America serves over 4,500 businesses, utilities, and cities through renewable power generation, demand response, distributed energy resources, smart e-mobility solutions and services, energy trading, advisory and consulting services, and more. Its portfolio includes over 9.7 GW of utility-scale renewable capacity, 606 MW / 910 MWh of utility-scale energy storage and 76 MW / 174 MWh of distributed energy storage capacity, 4.7 GW of demand response capacity, and 170,000 electric vehicle charging ports. Visit enelnorthamerica.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to learn more.