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Italy cleared to give €2bn for Sicilian semiconductor plant

Margrethe Vestager, the Competition Commissioner and leader of the “Europe fit for the Digital Age” initiative (European Union/CC BY 4.0 Deed)
The European Commission on Friday agreed to let Italy offer €2bn in state aid for France’s STMicroelectronics to build a €5bn chip factory in Sicily.

The company wants to build an integrated chip plant for silicon carbide (SIC) power devices in Catania. 

They’re used to make relatively low-tech semiconductors for industrial applications like photovoltaics and energy storage.

The plant will specialise in a type that are used in EVs and fast charging stations.

STMicroelectronics describes its Catania Silicon Carbide Campus as a “fully vertically integrated” unit, from “R&D to manufacturing, from substrate to module”.

A rendering of the planned fab (STMicroelectronics)

Jean-Marc Chery, chief executive of STMicroelectronics, said: “The scale and synergies offered by this project will enable us to better innovate with high-volume manufacturing capacity, to the benefit of our European and global customers as they transition to electrification and seek more energy efficient solutions to meet their decarbonization goals.”

Margrethe Vestager, the Competition Commissioner, said the state aid demonstrated the EU’s determination to ensure a supply of such materials despite trade tensions with China.

Speaking in Catania, Vestager said: “I think it’s really important that we do this, because it’s also signalling to the rest of the world, you should not build up capacity to think that you can own this market, because it’s so strategically important to us not to have single supplier dependencies.”

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