•  Big news out of Silicon Valley today: SunPower, the world's leading solar panel manufacturer, known for making the highest efficiency solar panels on the planet, has announced that it is bringing a large portion of its commercial solar panel manufacturing back to the US. The announcement comes four months after SunPower acquired the SolarWorld Americas solar panel manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, and reaffirms SunPower's commitment to American manufacturing jobs. Now SunPower will be making its 19-percent efficiency solar panels at the Oregon plant, utilizing the vast automation technology and 200 person workforce in its operations. 

    SunPower will primarily be using the new manufacturing facilities to make their high-efficiency P19 solar panels. These panels are for commercial settings only, such as parking lots or large warehouse rooftops, where space is usually not limited so the efficiency of the panel is not the most important consideration. (SunPower's residential panel, for example, provides 22% efficiency compared to 19% for P19s.) But there are already several Fortune 500 companies that have the P19s on order, so production is starting quick and large orders will begin being fulfilled in the coming weeks. SunPower is already the top commercial solar panel provider in the US, with the most Megawatts installed, so having the edge of manufacturing in America will only bolster that position.
    With SunPower adding the P-19 series to it's already top of the line catalog of solar panels, they are further solidifying their status as the top solar manufacturer in the world - in both the residential and commercial sectors. The P19 in particular leverages unique cell-interconnect technology that was originally developed by Cogenra Solar. When SunPower acquired them in 2015, they immediately introduced the P-Series panels, changing the face of the commercial solar market forever. Now they manufacture them in several geographies, and the P-Series panels have become the most deployed shingled cell solar panels on the planet. 
    Much like SunPower's residential solar panels, the P-Series also tests on the highest levels for resistance to thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity-freeze dynamic mechanical load and potential induced degradation. These tests are performed DNV - GL, a global independent energy authority and certification body that tests solar panels for reliability and durability. Basically, they found that the P-Series panels stand up to the elements better, and produce more power for longer than other similar models of solar panels. These findings come as no surprise to those that know SunPower products, as their panels consistently test the highest in durability and reliability tests.
  • Today we celebrate the revival of American solar panel manufacturing as SunPower’s high-quality P19 product starts coming off the line in Oregon. Now that we’re in full production, we look forward to meeting our strong U.S. commercial market demand with these high-performance American-assembled panels.

    Tom Werner, CEO SunPower

  • The 200 jobs being added by the plant are part of a larger growth trend fueled by clean energy jobs. The just-released third annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), a comprehensive look at energy jobs in America, showed the country had nearly 3.2 million Americans working in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean energy jobs in 2017, outnumbering fossil fuel jobs 3 to 1So while solar manufacturing jobs may never employ as many people as solar installation currently does, this new plant indicates that we may be on the verge of an American solar manufacturing boom that will provide good jobs to thousands more Americans in the years to come.
  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.