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Published on December 2nd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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SunPower’s Solar Panel Manufacturing Capacity To Triple In 5 Years

December 2nd, 2014 by  


Originally published on Solar Love.

TOM-WERNER-cmykOne of the world’s largest solar cell and solar panel manufacturers, SunPower*, is looking primed to take advantage of continued, massive solar power growth. Recently, SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner noted that he expects the solar industry to be a $5 trillion industry within 20 years. I wouldn’t bet against that.

Aiming to take advantage of that growth as much as possible, SunPower is currently planning to triple its solar panel manufacturing capacity over the next 5 years.

The company is known for its high-efficiency solar panels, the most efficient as well as most durable, most reliable, and best guaranteed on the market. Part of its massive manufacturing expansion will be for its high-efficiency solar panels, but part is also aimed at growing low-concentrating PV (LCPV), presumably to diversify its focus and also claim an even larger portion of the fast-expanding solar market.

The expansion includes a 150 MW factory in South Africa, a 350 MW Fab 4 facility in the Philippines and a 800 MW Fab 5 facility, as well as 1,000 MW of capacity for LCPV production.

SunPower solar panel manufacturing growth plan


 

Showing how much things have changed for SunPower in recent years, Greentech Media reports:

Werner reminisced about building SunPower’s first fab in an old NEC hard disk drive manufacturing facility in the Philippines that “had to be torn apart” a decade ago. He said the 108-megawatt site “seemed massive at the time,” and he was concerned as to how to keep it filled to capacity.

Now, Werner notes, the company is going to effectively build 25 of those lines in the next five years. “We’re going for it,” he said.

“Going for it” seems like the perfect line to capture SunPower’s bet, based on its massive (but I’d say realistic) projections.

As part of its growth plans, SunPower also recently acquired solar inverter startup SolarBridge.

For more info, see sister site CleanTechnica’s reports on SunPower’s Q2 and Q3 financials calls.

*Full Disclosure: I own stock in SunPower.

Photo via UW-Madison






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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



  • haveittodayray

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Solar City is the way to go, zero cost to homeowner and they handle all the paperwork, permits, etc. even if you live in an HOA community. You will save month, month after month by going Solar for sure. Just call me if you have any questions at all my number is 702 202 1693

    They will even give you $250 if you refer your neighbor or friends and they go Solar too.

    So you 1.
    Save Money and 2. Make Money

  • UKGary

    To the best of my knowledge, Sunpower has seen its manufacturing costs dropping by around 20% per annum in recent years which together with the premium price they can charge for high efficiency and high quality makes them one of the more profitable solar companies. Further expansion will help to drive future cost reductions helping to keep them competitive in the future – even as other manufacturers ramp up their own high efficiency offerings.

    Look out for even more announcements of capacity expansion soon as solar hits utility scale parity in India, the Middle East, and much of Africa and South America.

  • exdent11

    When I buy my solar system it will be from a company like Solarcity that is building plants in the U.S. ; not mostly overseas.

    • Offgridman

      While that is a good intention make sure that when you place your order you specify that you want American made panels. Solar City is starting to increase production here in the US, but a majority of their panels will still be sourced from overseas for at least the next five years, especially if their sales maintain as well as they have been. Part of the reason Sunpower is increasing production is to accommodate sales to Solar City.

    • jim c

      Sun Power builds solar panels in US for US market. They build all their panels in market where they are sold. Africa and South Asia are the growing markets.
      I also own SPWR. And will keep buying more every correction.

      • UKGary

        My guess is that with the recent tariff ruling, that Sunpower may well start bringing in product from Malaysia, Philippines and South Africa to help meet US demand.

    • hi

      Solar city does not use American made panels!! They are all made in china! The best solar panels out there are German technology and build in USA by Solar World

      • Bob_Wallace
        • haveittodayray

          Bob they are great panels. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

          Solar City is the way to go, zero cost to homeowner and they handle all the paperwork, permits, etc. even if you live in an HOA community. You will save month, month after month by going Solar for sure. Just call me if you have any questions at all my number is 702 202 1693

          They will even give you $250 if you refer your neighbor or friends and they go Solar too.

          So you 1.
          Save Money and 2. Make Money

    • haveittodayray

      Excden your right on. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Solar City is the way to go, zero cost to homeowner and they handle all the paperwork, permits, etc. even if you live in an HOA community. You will save month, month after month by going Solar for sure. Just call me if you have any questions at all my number is 702 202 1693

      They will even give you $250 if you refer your neighbor or friends and they go Solar too.

      So you 1.
      Save Money and 2. Make Money

  • ePractical

    Wasn’t it just last year that several very large solar plants in China went out of business because of overcapacity?

    • Bob_Wallace

      A bit earlier than that. What happened was what is generally seen as a technology matures. At some point the more efficient (cheaper) manufacturers grow to the point at which the less efficient (more expensive) manufacturers get shoved out.

      Altogether the 600+ manufacturers were producing more than the market demanded at that time. The efficient manufacturers supplied demand, the less efficient ones had to sell product at a loss in order to recoup some of their investments. (This may have been the cause of “Chinese dumping” rather than the government heavily subsidizing the industry in order to destroy foreign competition.)

      About 25% of China’s solar manufacturers went under, leaving the world with far more manufacturers than is needed to keep the market competitive.

      Now the industry has that behind them, is profitable and expanding. Prices are dropping. Things are good…

  • JamesWimberley

    SunPower is still the $3.4 bn solar appendage to a much bigger $128bn oil company, Total. This presumably gives it access to slightly cheaper capital than competitors – or, more realistically. offsets the cheap capital the Chinese government steers to Yingli, Trina and BYD. How long before the positions are reversed, and Total’s risky and declining oil operations become a drag on a solar giant?

    • ePractical

      and then they’ll just spin off the “appendage”

      • Jenny Sommer

        Like E.ON just did with coal and nuclear.

    • Larmion

      Their oil business still underpins a hugely profitable chemistry division. Even if the oil division itself were to become less profitable for Total, it could still remain a healthy business purely as a chemical feedstock supplier.

      Besides that, there’s currently little reason to assume that the oil majors are in trouble. Demand is still growing at a healthy pace and the supply glut might be coming to an end.

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