SunPower to have new 75MW module plant in U.S., courtesy of Flextronics

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Electronics manufacturing services company Flextronics will utilize production floor space in its Silicon Valley operations for a 75MW module assembly facility for SunPower. The Silicon Valley-based PV manufacturer is carrying out a solar cell capacity expansion program at its own facilities in Asia. The new subcontract production should be operational by the end of the year and will service module installations throughout the Western U.S. from its Milpitas facility. Approximately 100 jobs will be created at the facility.

SunPower said that establishing a U.S. manufacturing facility was a direct result of a three-year agreement with the Department of Energy under the Solar Energy Technologies Program, which would lead to a possible maximum US$24 million of federal funding to implement improvements across the value chain that reduce solar system costs through improvements in the design and manufacture of integrated solar power systems. 

The company also plans to apply a U.S. federal manufacturing tax credit awarded to it from federal stimulus dollars by DOE to support its investment in the manufacturing equipment purchased for Silicon Valley, which includes equipment from four U.S.-based suppliers.

“We are proud to have been selected as SunPower’s manufacturing partner in California,” said E.C. Sykes, president of Flextronics Industrial. “Today’s announcement solidifies Flextronics’ leading position as the clean-tech supply chain partner of choice for OEMs participating in this important and rapidly growing market sector.”

Indeed, the new EMS contract follows on from the recent deal Flextronics signed with major solar-cell producer Q-Cells to establish module assembly lines in Malaysia, where the German company has established major new cell production lines.

As PV-Tech reported in a guest blog from Auriga financial analyst Mark Bachman, SunPower has been losing market share in California to lower-cost module producers from China and Taiwan.

The decision to have module assembly in California could be seen as a supportive move to regain market share in its home region and neighbouring states.

“We commend Governor Schwarzenegger and our state and federal leaders for creating the long-term stability and visibility we need in the solar market to open this facility,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner (pictured). “The governor’s leadership on the California Solar Initiative, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, incentives for green manufacturing equipment, and AB 32 provide us with the confidence to further invest in our home state. We look forward to working with the city of Milpitas to bring back manufacturing jobs and generate new economic opportunity in Silicon Valley, where SunPower was founded 25 years ago.”

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