SunPower says its NGT technology ensures over 23% panel efficiency at commodity panel cost. It will shift 800 MW of its E-series production to this technology (Source: SunPower Corporation)
- SunPower plans to switch over to NGT module technology, starting with its E-series of cells and modules
- Volume production of NGT is scheduled to begin in Q4/2018, the management informed
- Trade duty under Section 201 made SunPower pay $17 million on tariffs during H1/2017; in the second half, it expects to shell out $51 million
- It expects to transition to the new upstream and downstream segmentation by the first quarter of 2019
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American module maker and project developer SunPower Corporation plans to transition its current manufacturing capacity based on 5-inch interdigitated back contact (IBC) technology to its larger size Next Generation Technology (NGT) cells.
All of its E-series cell and module capacity of 800 MW will be converted to NGT to start with. One of the lines in Malaysia has already produced the first products of this technology. Volume production is scheduled to begin in Q4/2018, announced SunPower in its second quarter report 2018.
SunPower’s NGT modules are based on a 6-inch wafer platform and produce around 70% more power than its current 5-inch IBC cell based panels. The larger wafer size of the NGT cells results in 6.4 W/cell compared to 3.8 W for its current IBC cell generation SunPower said that production will take place at its existing Fab 3
New corporate structure
In May 2018, SunPower made a big announcement to focus solely on distributed generation and manufacturing business, while it aims to exit the utility-scale development business (see SunPower To Focus On Distributed Solar).
Explaining the rationale behind the move away from utility solar plants, CEO Tom Werner said it was a conscious decision looking at the reduced demand for power plants with the Chinese decision discouraging large scale solar power development. SunPower will instead cater to the power plant market as a supplier of its P-series product through its joint venture with China’s Dongfang Electric and Zhonghuan Semiconductor.
“We expect to transition to our new upstream and downstream segmentation by the first quarter of 2019. This decision will allow us to focus our downstream efforts on the higher-margin US DG business while growing global sales of our upstream solar panel business through our SunPower Solutions group,” said Werner. “Also, this structure will provide the resources to invest in those areas that offer the highest differentiation and growth potential including our industry-leading NGT cell and panel technology, solar-plus-storage solutions, as well as expanding our grid-services offerings.”
Trade tariffs hurting
Imposition of trade tariffs under Section 201 by the federal government of America has started showing its impact. During H1/2017, American module maker and PV developer SunPower Corporation says it spent $17 million on tariffs due to Section 201. In the second half of the year, it expects to invest $51 million in its research and development and American manufacturing.
The company is expecting to close the acquisition of SolarWorld Americas in Q3/2018 (see SunPower Acquires SolarWorld Americas).
SunPower managed to exceed revenue guidance and achieved $449.1 million in sales in the second quarter of 2018, improving from last year’s $328 million. Adjusted EBITDA was also better than last year and also a sequential improvement to $58.6 million. While its net loss shot up to $447.1 million during the reporting quarter from $116 million in Q1/2018 and $90.5 million a year back, its net debt came down to $1,082.6 million. In the last quarter, it was $1,347.3 million, while during Q2/2017, it was reported to be $1,466 million.
SunPower has guided for GAAP revenues between $425 million to $475 million, expecting loss of $215 million to $195 million in net income. It plans to deploy 400 MW to 430 MW during the quarter.
For the entire year, GAAP revenue is expected to be anywhere in the range of $1.6 billion to $2.0 billion. Capital expenditure could touch $100 million with adjusted EBITDA of $95 million to $125 million. It has guided for 1.5 GW to 1.9 GW of total annual deployments during 2018.