When SunPower split its solar panel manufacturing business into a new company, Maxeon Solar Technologies, in August 2020, the plan was that SunPower would continue to manufacture its own P-series solar cells for the US market from the Oregon plant it purchased from SolarWorld Components. Five months later, SunPower ceased production in Oregon. Maxeon now announces that it will first sell Performance’s tile-type solar panel series to the United States through a manufacturing plant in Mexico and then possibly through a new plant in the United States.
The two-phase expansion of Maxeon's production capacity will bring up to 3.6 GW of new module assembly in North America. The expansion depends on Maxeon obtaining funds to purchase equipment, after which it is expected to start its first sales in the United States in the first quarter of 2022.
"We are pleased to announce this plan to expand our influence in the US market. By leveraging our existing supply chain assets in North America, we can provide Maxeon's industry-leading shingle module technology to the rapidly growing US market", Maxeon Solar Technologies CEO Jeff Waters said, "Maxeon has already taken an important position in the U.S. rooftop distributed generation (DG) market by providing SunPower with inter-digital back contact (IBC) panels. We hope that through Provide SunPower with performance panels for use in its DG business to expand the scope of this partnership, thereby expanding their product range to occupy more available markets. We will also supplement and expand our US presence through direct sales business, and expand it into fast-growing large-scale areas, and our current SunPower partnership cannot solve this problem."
In the first phase of production expansion, Maxeon plans to use existing facilities to rapidly increase 1.8 GW of new capacity. Large-scale G12 mono-PERC solar cells will be produced at Maxeon’s production base in Malaysia, and module assembly is planned to be carried out at Maxeon’s existing plant in Mexicali, Mexico.
Maxeon will also begin to find the best location for module assembly in the United States, with a capacity of up to 1.8 GW. If successful, the second phase is expected to start operations in 2023.
"By using existing manufacturing facilities for the first stage, we can use our current factory footprint and our experienced and well-trained workforce to rapidly increase the number of our advanced Performance Line solar panels to sell to the US market. Increased sales in Malaysia and Mexico will also increase the utilization rate of overheads and help reduce the cost of our industry-leading IBC products," Waters said. "Our Mexicali plant is for customers in the Southwestern United States. Provides particularly efficient outbound logistics services. This plan of our Performance Line module assembly capacity in the United States and future planned expansion will bring our supply chain closer to our customers."
The new capacity will be used to manufacture Maxeon's latest double-sided panel technology with a cover, each with a rated power of up to 650 W and an efficiency of more than 21%. The main target market for Maxeon's new capacity will be utility-scale power plants and large-scale commercial and industrial systems, but the company also plans to produce panels suitable for DG applications in the civilian and light commercial sectors.