From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from SunPower Corporation)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
SunPower Corporation
IndustryRenewable energy
Founded1985; 37 years ago (1985)
FounderRichard Swanson
Area served
Key people
Peter Faricy (President & CEO)
RevenueIncreaseUS$1.32 billion (2021)
DecreaseUS$−27.5 million (2021)
DecreaseUS$−37.4 million (2021)
Total assetsIncreaseUS$1.07 billion (2021)
Total equityDecreaseUS$1.56 billion (2021)
OwnerTotalEnergies (50.6%)
Number of employees
3,660 (2021)
Footnotes / references
Financials as of December 31, 2021.

SunPower is an American provider of photovoltaic solar energy generation systems and battery energy storage products, primarily for residential customers. The company, headquartered in San Jose, California, was founded in 1985 by Richard Swanson, an electrical engineering professor from Stanford University. Cypress Semiconductor bought a majority interest in the company in 2002, growing it quckly until SunPower went public in 2005. TotalEnergies, a French energy and oil company purchased a controlling interest in SunPower for US$1.37 billion in 2011.

The company previously developed and manufactured photovoltaic panels, before spinning off that part of its business off in 2020 as Maxeon Solar Technologies. The company was also previously marketed its products to commercial and industrial customers before agreeing to sell that business line to TotalEnergies in February 2022.


Early history[edit]

SunPower was founded on April 24, 1985, by Richard Swanson,[3] who was a Stanford University professor focused on electrical engineering.[4] Swanson studied solar power efficiency in the Stanford Electronics Laboratory with funding from research grants.[5]: 468  After breaking a record for solar power efficiency in lab conditions, he took a sabbatical to start SunPower and commercialize the technology.[4][6] Initially, the company was called Eos and was funded with $2,000 in savings between Swanson and his friend Richard Crane.[5]: 468  In 1989, Robert Lorenzini invested in the company, became its chairman, and changed the name to SunPower.[5]: 468 

Some of SunPower's early revenues were from research grants[3] and using its manufacturing facilities to create silicon wafers for semiconductor companies.[5]: 468  Interest grew as SunPower completed prototype installations[4] and portable electronics that use solar power became more popular.[5]: 468  Swanson resigned from his academic position at Stanford in 1991, in order to focus on SunPower full-time.[6] The company's revenues grew from $600,000 in 1989 to $1.4 million in 1995, and $6 million in 1996.[5]: 468  However, by 2001 the company was anticipating having to layoff half of its employees.[7]


SunPower founder Richard Swanson's former classmate, T.J. Rodgers, was the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and took an interest in investing in the company.[7] At first, the Cypress board wasn't willing to invest, so Rodgers invested $750,000 of his own money.[8] Starting with an investment of $8 million, Cypress eventually invested about $150 million,[8] acquiring a controlling interest in SunPower in 2002.[7] Cypress appointed Tom Werner as the new CEO the following year.[5]: 469 

Demand for SunPower's products increased in the early 2000s, due to rising utility costs, government subsidies, and its new A-300 solar cell.[5]: 469 [9] In particular, SunPower grew in Germany and California, where new government subsidies were being introduced.[9] By 2005, SunPower was not yet profitable,[5]: 469  but had $200 million in backlogged orders.[9] Revenues increased from $5 million in 2003 to $78.7 million in 2005.[5]: 469 

As the company was getting closer to profitability, it filed an initial public offering.[5]: 469  The 2005 offering raised $138.6 million in funding.[7] The following year, SunPower was profitable for the first time with $236.5 million in revenues.[5]: 469  SunPower moved into a larger corporate headquarters location in San Jose, California and secured several contracts with major retailers for solar panel installations.[5]: 469–70  In 2007, SunPower announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility five-fold[10] and build a second factory.[11]

SunPower collaborated with PowerLight to develop its roofing-tile solar product called SunTile.[5]: 469 [12] In order to combine their R&D efforts, SunPower acquired PowerLight for $265 million, in January 2007.[5]: 469–70  Analysts estimated the acquisition doubled SunPower's size.[12] Shortly afterwards, PowerLight secured a $330 million contract, the largest SunPower had ever done.[13] By 2007, half of Cypress' revenues, or $775 million, was coming from its investment in SunPower.[14] SunPower was spun-off as a separate business from Cypress in 2008.[14]

Recent history[edit]

SunPower acquired Sunray Renewable Energy, a solar panel company based in Italy, for $277 million in 2010, in order to expand in Europe.[15][16] The following year, SunPower cut back production due to an overall market decline in solar power purchases.[17] SunPower also announced the French oil and gas company Total was acquiring a majority interest in SunPower for $1.37 billion.[18] In 2012, SunPower founder Richard Swanson retired, though he continued to serve on the SunPower advisory board.[6]

By 2013, SunPower's revenues rebounded and it started expanding its manufacturing facilities again.[17] That same year, it acquired Greenbotics, which developed automated cleaning systems for solar panels, and Dragonfly, which developed solar micro-inverters.[19][20] This was followed by SunPower's 2014 acquisition of SolarBridge, which developed microinverters used to improve the efficiency of solar panels.[20]

In 2014, SunPower raised $220 million from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, in order to fund customer financing options.[21] That same year, SunPower invested $20 million in a home energy app company called Tendril.[22] As part of the deal, the two companies began integrating their products, so the home automation software from Tendril could time heavy energy use for when the solar panels are generating the most power.[22]

In 2019, SunPower announced it was going to spin-off its manufacturing division into a separate business in Singapore named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd.[23] As part of the deal, Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor Co invested $298 million for a 29% interest in Maxeon.[23][24] The remaining SunPower business became focused on services, installation, batteries, and other products.[24] In 2021, former CEO Tom Werner retired and Peter Faricy took his place as CEO of SunPower.[25]

In February 2022, SunPower investor TotalEnergies purchased SunPower's commercial and industrial divisions for $250 million, as part of SunPower's transition to focusing on residential installations.[26]

Products and services[edit]

SunPower designs and markets solar power-related products and services.[27] For example, it sells, installs, and finances panels, batteries, mounts, and software.[28]: 3–5  Its products are known for being more expensive, but producing energy more efficiently than competing products.[23][29][30][a] SunPower is often used when there is a limited amount of space for the panels, such as on rooftops.[23][b]

Ordinarily, the electrical contacts are on the front of a solar panel, facing the sun.[5]: 467  The front of SunPower's panels channel the light to electrical contacts on the back of the panel, reducing the amount of sunlight that is reflected, rather than turned into energy.[7][8][9][5]: 467  The company first started leasing solar panels in 2011[31] and started a pilot project for battery products around 2014.[32]

Most of SunPower's sales are in the United States.[28]: 50, 84 [c] In SunPower's early history it built many of the largest solar power plants in the United States.[23][d] In 2008, SunPower started building large-scale solar farms for utilities companies PG&E and OptiSolar in San Luis Obispo and Hayward respectively.[33] It also built other large installations, such as at the Kennedy Space Center.[34] SunPower also built the Bavaria Solarpark in Germany in 2004.[35] The plant spans 62 acres over three locations.[36] At the time, it was the largest solar power plant in the world.[37]


  1. ^ "SunPower panels are known for being the most efficient in the industry, able to convert more of the energy in sunlight into electricity. That can give its panels an advantage for space-constrained installations like rooftops, though they can also be more expensive than rivals’ products." (source: Los Angeles Times)
    "SunPower has built a reputation as a maker of highly efficient solar panels, and charges a premium price for them." (source: GreenTechMedia)
    "SunPower’s panels, though not the cheapest, are much in demand because they are most efficient at transforming sunlight into energy." (source: Reuters)
  2. ^ "That can give its panels an advantage for space-constrained installations like rooftops, though they can also be more expensive than rivals’ products."
  3. ^ "to customers primarily in United States and Canada"
  4. ^ "In the early days of renewable energy, SunPower and First Solar both built and sold some of the biggest U.S. solar farms."


  1. ^ "SunPower 2021 Annual Report". February 25, 2022.
  2. ^ "SunPower Corporation Schedule 13D". SunPower. May 24, 2022. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Hull, Dana (April 23, 2010). "2010: Q&A with Dick Swanson, founder and president of SunPower". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 31, 2021. He founded SunPower on April 24, 1985, and the small company lived on research grants and small projects until...
  4. ^ a b c Chandler, David (May 7, 1990). "Renewable Energy Some Say Alternative Fuels Could Supply 80 Percent of the Nation's Needs by 2010". The Boston Globe. p. 27. Richard Swanson, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, created cells that hold the efficiency record for single-element photovoltaics in the laboratory. Now, he has taken a sabbatical to start a solar energy company in Mountain View... His company, called SunPower, has installed prototypes in Atlanta and elsewhere and plans to have commercial plants producing power at competitive prices by the middle of this decade.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Grant, Tina (2009). "SunPower Corp.". International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 91. St. James Press. pp. 467–470.
  6. ^ a b c Wesoff, Eric (October 8, 2012). "Dick Swanson Retiring From SunPower, But Not Done". Greentech Media. Retrieved May 31, 2021. where his group developed the point-contact solar cell. Lab versions set a record...In 1991, Dr. Swanson resigned from the faculty
  7. ^ a b c d e Takahashi, Dean (August 18, 2014). "2005: Hot IPO for solar cell maker SunPower". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Cypress' solar-power gambit bears fruit in SunPower IPO". EE Times. December 12, 2005. In his first attempt at interesting the Cypress board in an investment, Rodgers got nowhere, so he cut SunPower a personal check for $750,000 to keep the company going until he could sway his board. Cypress later invested $150 million in SunPower, beginning with an initial $8 million investment.
  9. ^ a b c d Carlton, Jim (May 19, 2005). "Solar Energy May Help Cypress Regain Its Glow; CEO Invested $110 Million To Retool SunPower Chips; Now, Orders Are Pouring In". Wall Street Journal. p. A.7.
  10. ^ Añonuevo, Euan (April 20, 2007). "SunPower to Jack up Solar-Cell Production". The Manila Times. SunPower Philippines will expand by fivefold its solar-cell-manufacturing business in the country due to strong demand abroad.
  11. ^ Tribble, Sarha (April 16, 2007). "2007: Sunpower: Gains powered by clean energy". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Carlton, Jim (November 16, 2006). "SunPower Buys PowerLight As Alternative-Energy Market Revs Up". WSJ. Retrieved May 30, 2021. SunPower and PowerLight have collaborated on a roofing-tile product, called SunTile
  13. ^ Bunk, Matthew (December 16, 2005). "PowerLight, SunPower switch on a new deal". Oakland Tribune. It’s the largest ever supply contract for SunPower, which went public Nov. 15.
  14. ^ a b Johnson, Steve (October 13, 2008). "2008: Cypress Semiconductor goes it alone without SunPower". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 31, 2021. last year accounting for some $775 million — or about half — of Cypress’ revenue
  15. ^ Gupta, Poornima (February 11, 2010). "UPDATE 2-SunPower to acquire Europe's SunRay for $277 mln". U.S. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Hull, Dana (February 11, 2010). "2010: SunPower to acquire SunRay Renewable Energy". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Wang, Ucilia (October 30, 2013). "Back to growth: SunPower to boost solar cell manufacturing by 25%". Gigaom. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  18. ^ Groom, Nichola (April 28, 2011). "Total SA to pay up to $1.37 billion for SunPower stake". Reuters. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  19. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (November 12, 2014). "SunPower Buys Microinverter Startup SolarBridge". WSJ. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Chernova, Yuliya (November 11, 2014). "SunPower Buys Microinverter Startup SolarBridge". VentureWire.
  21. ^ Fehrenbacher, Katie (June 25, 2014). "After twists and turns, SunPower and SolarCity emerge as fierce rivals for solar roofs". Gigaom. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Tweed, Katherine (December 15, 2014). "SunPower Invests $20M in Tendril to Link Solar With Home Energy Management". Greentech Media. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d e "One of America's biggest solar-panel makers quits manufacturing". Los Angeles Times. November 12, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Sarkar, Arundhati (November 11, 2019). "SunPower to spin off solar panel manufacturing, shares rise". Reuters. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  25. ^ "SunPower CEO to retire, former Amazon executive named top boss". Reuters. March 25, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  26. ^ Stevens, Pippa (February 10, 2022). "SunPower sells commercial and industrial business to biggest investor, TotalEnergies". CNBC. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  27. ^ "Company Profile: SunPower Corporation: SWOT Analysis of SunPower". MarketLine. February 5, 2021.
  28. ^ a b SunPower 2020 Annual Report
  29. ^ Wang, Ucilia (April 27, 2009). "Pricing Pressure Beating Down on SunPower". Greentech Media. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  30. ^ Groom, Nichola (June 1, 2009). "Handful of players seen ruling the solar roost". Reuters. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  31. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (February 1, 2011). "Manufacturers Suntech, SunPower Start Leasing Solar Panels". VentureWire.
  32. ^ Fehrenbacher, Katie (June 24, 2014). "SunPower unveils details of a battery pilot for the first time". Gigaom. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  33. ^ Nauman, Matt (August 14, 2008). "2008: PG&E, SunPower announce major solar deal". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  34. ^ Lobsenz, George (May 7, 2010). "First Solar Extends Lead In Utility PV Market With NextLight Purchase". The Energy Daily. No. 86.
  35. ^ Hanna, N. (2010). The Green Investing Handbook: A Detailed Investment Guide to the Technologies and Companies Involved in the Sustainability Revolution. Harriman House Series. Harriman House. p. 1-PT149. ISBN 978-1-906659-67-7. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  36. ^ Kamal, S. (2013). The Renewable Revolution: How We Can Fight Climate Change, Prevent Energy Wars, Revitalize the Economy and Transition to a Sustainable Future. Taylor & Francis. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-136-54020-2. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  37. ^ Botkin, D.B. (2010). Powering the Future: A Scientist's Guide to Energy Independence. FT Press Science. Pearson Education. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-13-708358-9. Retrieved August 4, 2021.

External links[edit]