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SunPower Ramps Up Production, Soon its Solar Down Near $1 a Watt

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SunPower has sold out of its solar panels for the rest of this year, and into early 2011, despite a huge 65% ramp-up of production at its new Malaysian factory.

In a conference call covering company finances, SunPower CEO Tom Werner revealed that sales exceed supply beginning in this fourth quarter and extending into next year. Sales have increased 41% in the third quarter over the second quarter, largely due to new utility-scale orders. Projects in the pipeline now total 5 GW.

“Geographically, our top three markets were Italy, the U.S. and Germany, in terms of both megawatts and revenues. Utility and power plants revenue more than doubled in the third quarter to US$261 million compared to US$128 million in the second quarter of 2010. The strong performance was primarily driven by our successful execution in Italy and the build-out of projects in the US,” Werner told PV-Tech.

Growth was steadier in the non-utility-scale market for the company: US$264 million in the second quarter grew to US$293 million in the third in solar panel sales for rooftops for homeowners and businesses.

Renowned for their panels’ superior efficiency (squeezing the maximum number of electrons from the minimum sized panels) the company makes solar panels that are popular with aesthetically-minded homeowners for their sophisticated and sleek appearance. Kind of the Rolls Royce of solar panels.

However, till now, they have also been known for making the most expensive panels on the market. But that is about to change.

The new ramp up in production to meet the increased demand, both for utility scale projects, as well as for residential solar panels, has brought much greater cost-effectiveness in assembly line production.

As a result, by the end of next year, their panels, adjusted for their increased output in relation to conventional crystaline silicon panels, are flirting with just $1 a watt.

“On the cost side, we are on track to achieve our Q4 2011 plan of US$1.08 per watt efficiency adjusted panel cost relative to conventional crystalline silicon technology” says Werner.

Image: Sunpower via Trendir
Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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