Innovation Lab: The City where the Future is Born

Published on Tuesday, 28 March 2017

“Our Innovation Lab occupies a total area of ten hectares, hosts 1,000 square metres of laboratories and 30,000 square metres of outdoor testing areas. ”

At the Passo Martino complex, much of which is already powered by renewable energy, the most innovative photovoltaic and hybrid technologies are tested through ultra-modern testing facilities and the use of digital technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

The Sicilian climate is ideal for the study of solar technologies. Each year, they have about 2,600 hours of sun at the Passo Martino site, with conditions that allow for outdoor testing even in the winter months.

Where Innovation is a Tradition

The Innovation Lab has been intended for research on solar power and energy saving ever since its foundation.

Its history begins in 1980, when CESI and CISE, Enel companies, founded Phoebus, a firm that used the site for research in the solar field, specifically photovoltaic and thermal.

Then the Conphoebus consortium, a large research centre working not only in the field of solar energy but in renewable power and energy saving in general, was founded.

In the 1990s, the activities of the centre were focused on the energy efficiency of buildings and on the design and testing of photovoltaic systems, especially in the context of European research projects.

In 2015, the Passo Martino laboratory was integrated into the Innovation and Sustainability unit of Enel Green Power.

“The main mission of our laboratories is the scouting and experimentation of new technologies to increase the efficiency, producibility and the reliability of solar plants, reducing costs and optimising their integration into the power grid.”


In creating the Enel Innovation Lab in Passo Martino, Enel wanted to form a technological campus and an accelerator of young entrepreneurship, hosting start-ups and nationally and internationally important research centres (CNR, INRIM, University of Catania).

“The Enel Innovation Lab is closely linked to the Enel Innovation Hubs in Israel, the USA and Singapore. It’s a place where excellence in the field of innovative technology comes together.”

The Catania laboratory is also accredited for the qualification of photovoltaic modules in accordance with international standards IEC 17025-CEI EN 61215 and CEI EN 61646.

The Passo Martino site also carries out research activity and analysis in synergy with 3SUN one of the biggest European producers of photovoltaic, located a few kilometres away and owned by Enel Green Power.

In the laboratories on the slopes of Etna, a project called 3SUN 2.0 is taking shape. This will involve the development of highly innovative technologies for the creation of even more efficient photovoltaic modules that are reliable in the most diverse environmental conditions.