- Maxeon Solar has shuttered its 44 MW solar panel manufacturing facility in France’s Porcelette
- It has cited continued challenging price environment, increased cost and importation taxes on raw materials for the move
- These challenges made it difficult for the company to remain competitive on the European market
- The decision to shut comes at a time when the company had received an EU grant to expand the on-location capacity to by 1.4 GW to produce MaxAir panels
- Maxeon is evaluating the possibility of re-establishing manufacturing capabilities in Europe as it anticipates policy framework to support localized solar supply chains
Singapore headquartered solar module manufacturer Maxeon Solar Technologies has shut down its solar PV manufacturing facility in France’s Porcelette citing challenging price environment, at a time when there is a growing consensus and clamor for local vertically integrated solar PV manufacturing in all of Europe.
According to a report of a local publication La Republicain Lorrain, the company that has been producing SunPower brand of modules at the French location since 2012, has been quietly shutting down operations at the 44 MW fab, unknown to even Porcelette Mayor Marie-France Guerriero.
When TaiyangNews reached out to Maxeon, the company spokesperson confirmed the development stating that it has dismissed all 31 employees at the fab with unanimous approval from all employee representatives. It has taken different initiatives to help all employee categories.
“As to the reason for closing, because of the continued challenging price environment which has been impacting the solar photovoltaic industry, aggravated by the recent increased cost and importation taxes on raw materials, the production price of the Porcelette plant no longer allows us to be competitive on the European market. Hence the decision to continue to serve the European customers through a manufacturing scheme that allows us to bring to market the best technology at a market-competitive price,” stated Maxeon. Maxeon is accelerating plans to set up shop in the US with 3 GW capacity with the country’s incentive backed Inflation Reduction Act having been cleared (see Maxeon Solar’s Q2/2022 Gross Loss Widened).
A spinoff of SunPower Corporation, Maxeon still has its European headquarters and its main European warehouse in France, near Lyon, and says it continues to employ in France nearly twice the number of people it used to have in Porcelette.
The company did very briefly mention the closure of Porcelette fab in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing in August 2022 stating, “Restructuring expense were $1.8 million and $1.5 million in the three and six months ended July 3, 2022 respectively. This primarily consists of a restructuring plan charge for June 2022 on the closure of our module factory in Porcelette, France.”
All said and done, the decision does come as a surprise since Maxeon had all the plans to expand capacity on location. In July 2021, it won a European Union (EU) grant to establish 1.4 GW production line at the Porcelette facility to produce sticky solar panels called MaxAir (see Innovative EU Projects Selected For €118 Million Funding).
The move follows its decision to shutter another of its French Fab in Toulouse in 2021.
The good news is that the manufacturer is ‘evaluating the possibility of re-establishing manufacturing capabilities in Europe in anticipation of policy framework evolution that would support the development of localized solar supply chains’.
The company added, “In order to stay competitive in the global market, at Maxeon we are constantly optimizing the costs of our manufacturing processes across our different production sites and evaluating our global manufacturing footprint.”
Recently, Rystad Energy said as much as 35 GW solar PV manufacturing projects in Europe may be stalled if energy prices continue to rise (see High Power Prices Dent Europe’s Renewable Energy Supply Chain).
The story has been updated to incorporate Maxeon Solar Technologies’ responses to TaiyangNews queries.