SunPower Expands Solar Cell Plant Capacity

These are good days to be in the business of manufacturing solar photovoltaics (PV) as demand has exploded, lead primarily by a booming German market. Solar cell manufacturer SunPower has plans to expand the manufacturing capacity of its factory in Manila, The Philippines to 50 MW by the second half of next year.

All their current manufacturing is sold out.The increase will double the factory’s current capacity of 25 MW and allow SunPower to better meet the demand levels for its product. The new production line for the company’s A-300 solar cell will be constructed within the company’s existing 225,000 square-foot facility, which started production in March of 2004. Future expansion at the plant could exceed 100 MW, which is production of approximately 32 million wafers per year. Wafers manufactured by SunPower have an all black contact designed to maximize the working area of the cell, reduce the need for wires and simplify automated production. Efficiency of the cell was measured at 21.5 percent, and testing was done at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Demand for solar electric systems has been growing rapidly. According to Strategies Unlimited, a leading independent market research firm, industry shipments are projected to have increased by 47 percent to more than 990 MW in 2004, and have grown on average by more than 40 percent annually over the past five years. “Following the launch of our product line this past June, demand has far exceeded the capacity of our first 25 MW production line. This new capacity will enable us to better serve our existing customer base and to pursue new market opportunities,” said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower.
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