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Maxeon eyes large-scale solar with shingled module line, U.S-based production

Written by: Leonard Parker | solar news | April 12, 2021

Maxeon Solar Technologies announced plans to expands its presence in the large-scale U.S. solar power market by ramping up production of its Performance line of shingled modules — up to 3.6 GW of new capacity. After the company obtains the necessary debt or equity financing to purchase the equipment and get rolling, the company expects initial sales to start in the first quarter of 2022.

The new capacity will be used to manufacture Maxeon’s latest shingled bifacial panel technology, with rated power of up to 650 watts per panel and efficiency of over 21%. While Maxeon’s primary target market for the new capacity will be utility-scale power plants and large commercial and industrial systems, the company also plans to produce panels suitable for DG applications in the residential and light commercial segments.

Maxeon already has a strong presence in the distributed generation market, supplying Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) panels to SunPower Corp. Here’s a great breakdown on the two companies’ split / partnership. Jeff Waters, CEO of Maxeon Solar Technologies, said that partnership will expand to include these Performance panels. But this is definitely more of an effort to “expand our U.S. presence with direct sales into the large and rapidly growing large-scale segment, which is not addressed by our current SunPower partnership,” Waters said.

“Maxeon and SunPower have agreed to an option to expand their exclusive DG supply agreement to cover a multi-year commitment for Performance line solar panels in addition to IBC products,” commented Norm Taffe, SunPower Corporation EVP. “Based on Maxeon’s sales experience outside the U.S., we believe that this complete product portfolio will enable us to expand our share of account through our channel and penetrate new markets with a solar panel made at substantial scale in North America.”

Maxeon plans to implement its new Performance line capacity in two phases.

In phase one, Maxeon plans to use existing facilities to quickly ramp 1.8 GW of new capacity. Large-format G12 mono-PERC solar cells are planned to be manufactured in the company’s manufacturing site in Malaysia, and module assembly is planned to be performed at Maxeon’s facility in Mexicali, Mexico.

In parallel, Maxeon will conduct a comprehensive process to select an optimal site for a U.S.-based module assembly facility with a capacity of up to an additional 1.8 GW. Depending on site conditions and market demand, this second phase is expected to begin operation in 2023. 

Waters continued: “By using existing manufacturing facilities for phase one, we can leverage our current plant footprint and our experienced, highly trained work force to quickly ramp volume of our advanced Performance line solar panels for sale into the U.S. market. Greater volume in Malaysia and Mexico will also enhance overhead utilization, helping to drive down cost for our industry-leading IBC products. Our Mexicali factory offers a particularly efficient outbound logistics profile for customers in the Southwest U.S. region. This and later planned expansion of our Performance line module assembly capacity in the U.S. will bring our supply chain even closer to our customers.”