Year of Change Positions SunPower for Long-Term Success

By:Tom Werner

December 22, 2020

Future of SunPower

Editor’s Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

I’ve experienced many market transitions since joining SunPower as its CEO in 2003, but it’s hard to think of a year with more significant shifts than 2020. When I began working in solar, it was an uphill battle to get people to take our industry seriously. Rooftop panels were for those on the fringe of environmentalism, and mass adoption of our technology seemed to be decades away.

Seventeen years later, we are a leader in an industry that is 70 times as large. Today, major American corporations use solar to save money and reach aggressive sustainability goals.  Homeowners are adopting solar and storage systems because it’s sustainable — and an increasingly less expensive and more reliable source of energy than what they can get from the traditional grid. People that live in apartments are accessing solar energy from shared community sites. And we've only just begun. 

2020 has been a year of change for all people and all industries as we’ve worked to adapt and overcome in the face of one of the greatest global challenges in our lifetimes. COVID-19 has changed the way SunPower works, from shifting sales to virtual sales consultations to conducting a large portion of our business from home offices. None of this has been easy, and I want to express my deep gratitude to the SunPower team for the creativity and hard work put in to ensure another successful year. 

For SunPower, our year of change wasn’t just brought on by the pandemic. In August, we spun off our panel manufacturing business in order to clarify our mission and set the stage for focused growth and expansion. We are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to set a high bar with the most powerful and efficient panels in the industry, and we see a great future in distributed generation, pairing solar energy with storage and software.

We believe that solar rooftops will soon become the norm in every American neighborhood and that most of those roofs will be paired with a battery storage system to ensure affordable and reliable electricity. We are already on our way — Wood MacKenzie predicts that by 2025, more than 25% of all behind-the-meter solar systems will be paired with storage, up from under 5% in 2019. Some of our dealers are seeing attach rates that already well exceed that prediction. 

With solar plus storage and the ability to monitor comes more control over how, when and where you use your electricity, and consumers need software and mobile apps that make this seamless and easy. In the near future, storing, managing and using your solar energy should be as simple as managing your online bank account. 

This is our mission: to change the way our world is powered. For this new era of energy to work, it must be available to everyone. The events of 2020 have shown that there is work to be done to ensure equity for all Americans, and our industry is no exception. We can’t stand on the sidelines. We must do our part to deliver environmental justice and to make solar energy accessible to all, including low-income communities and communities of color. 

Our vision and goals are clear, and in working towards them we can help our nation reach its renewable energy goals while fueling the economy with well-paying jobs. We are already making progress. This year we put solar on 12,000 new homes and retrofitted 30,000 more. We are shipping and installing SunVault® storage systems at a rapid rate, with supply chains based in Alabama and Minnesota. We are expanding our sales and installation teams across the country as demand for solar + storage increases. Congress just passed a bipartisan bill that extends the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), an important step towards maximizing the potential of distributed solar and storage in the coming years. 

As a result of this growth, we expect to hire more than 300 professionals nationwide next year. And we are proud to work with our dealer network which includes 685 American small businesses across 46 states; altogether, these dealers employ more than 17,000 people. 

Solar represents the future of American energy. Our job is to make it happen. While the past year has shown that this mission won’t be easy, it has also shown that our company has the talent, resilience and clarity of purpose to reach its goals. We expect 2021 to be a year of growth for SunPower as we lead the way in providing solar energy services, and as we will invest in new talent across America to make it happen. Thank you to everyone at SunPower for your work in building this bright future.