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SunPower Uses N-Type IBC Technology to Boost Cell Efficiency to 25%

published: 2017-02-22 17:53

SunPower announced the financial results of 4Q16 and the latest technological development results. Fab 4 built by SunPower in Philippines successfully raised solar cell conversion efficiency to 25% through IBC cell technology, reaching a new record in the industry.

SunPower’s staff indicated in an online press conference that Fab 4 in Philippines use N-type mono-Si IBC cell technology. The capacity is expected to increase to 350MW in 2017. The research and development results are also very impressive at Fab 4 as cell conversion efficiency has reached 25%. SunPower views IBC as the development focus of next-generation technology, continuously leading the global technology development.

Fab 3 is located in Malaysia, with the capacity reaching 800MW. SunPower plans to spend US$ 100 million this year to upgrade the cell production lines to N-type mono-Si IBC technology, which is also called X-Series. With other upgrades and expansion requirements, SunPower estimates a capital spending of US$ 120 million in 2017.

During the ongoing upgrade of Fab 3 and Fab 4, SunPower will continue to use  X-Series module as the main product and at the same time enhance the supply of  P-Series modules while strengthening its market operation in China. The capacity of X-Series is expected to reach 350MW by the end of this year.

Cells for P-Series modules are purchased from the overseas and assembled at the assembly plants in Mexico. For P-Series modules, 200MW of multi-cut cell modules and direct cell-to-cell contact modules have been entering the mass production in 4Q16. There will be another 200MW entering the mass production in 1Q17.

Financial focus of 4Q16

In 4Q16, SunPower’s GAAP revenue reached US$ 1.025 billion, a significant increase from US$ 729 million in 3Q16. SunPower indicated that the company has about 400MW of utility-scale power plants in the US, which brought considerable revenue to the company.

SunPower’s GAAP revenue reached US$ 2.56 billion in 2016, an increase of nearly US$ 1 billion from US$ 1.577 billion in 2015.

However, SunPower shut down Fab 2 in Philippines in late-2016, recognizing a loss of approximately US$ 61 million in polysilicon sales, resulting in negative GAAP margin of 3.1% and a net GAAP loss of US$ 275.1 million in 4Q16. The company witnessed negative GAAP margin of 7.4% and a net GAAP loss of US$ 471.1 million in 2016.

Looking ahead for 2017, SunPower estimates that the total module shipment will reach 1.3-1.6GW this year. Therefore, the capacity of P-Series modules may increase further to make up for the capacity gap caused by the upgrade at Fab 3 and Fab 4.

In 1Q17, SunPower guided revenue to be US$ 315-365 million with GAAP gross margin negative 2-0% and a net GAAP loss of US$ 175-150 million. For 2017, the company aims at target revenue of US$ 1.8-2.3 billion, including a restructuring fund of US$ 50-100 million.
(Photo Credit: SunPower' blog)

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