SunPower Helix Commercial Solar Popular With Schools, Major Retailers, Other Businesses

By:Matt Mayberry

October 12, 2016

The Kern High School District in California uses SunPower Helix solar systems to generate clean power and save money.

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.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the SunPower® Helix™ solar system, the world’s first fully integrated solar solution designed for businesses and public agencies with the goal of making the complex simple.

In its first year, the Helix system has been embraced by schools, large retailers and other commercial enterprises who have valued its revolutionary combination of features:

  • The highest efficiency solar panels on the market,* producing 60 percent more energy from the same space over the first 25 years than conventional panels.*

  • Mounting hardware that maximizes roof coverage, enabling the Helix system to achieve the leading energy density in solar with 72 percent more energy generated over 25 years when compared to conventional solar power systems.*

  • A plug-and-play power station with factory installed connectors, which eliminates wiring and the need for tools on site, reducing labor costs during installation and improving reliability.

  • SunPower® EnergyLink™ software, a comprehensive, intelligence software for solar which provides usage data to identify savings opportunities.  

It is also distinguished by being fast to install and adaptable to the available space — rooftop, solar carports or ground — to best meet an organization’s energy goals.

After its first year in the market, we’re proud to say that the Helix system has won an award, too. Innovation, aesthetics, performance and value were the criteria under which the Helix system was named a winner in The Architect’s Newspaper’s “2016 Best of Products Awards.” The Helix system won in the category of HVAC and Smart Building Systems. Entries were evaluated by a jury of design professionals and editors.

Helix installed by Macy's, Toyota, California schools

In the last year, we have seen growing interest and demand for the Helix solar technology from a range of commercial customers. Here are a few places that have a Helix solar installation: 

  • Macy’s saw value when it shopped for solar and purchased Helix systems. In partnership with SunPower for a decade, the retailer has long been an advocate of clean, renewable energy. Macy’s has SunPower solar on 71 Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations, including 19 Helix rooftop systems that were added this year.

  • Toyota's new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, will feature Helix carports when it opens in 2017. Expected to generate 25 percent of the headquarters' total electricity demand, the system is anticipated to be the largest corporate office on-site solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas.

  • Helix systems get high marks from Kern High School District (HSD) in Kern County, Calif., which made the largest commitment to solar of any school district in the U.S. when it partnered with SunPower to build 22 megawatts of solar power systems at 27 district sites. Under the contract, SunPower is installing several Helix carport systems, a smart use of space in otherwise underutilized parking areas.

  • Solar for schools plus storage will maximize savings for Colton Joint Unified School District in California’s San Bernardino County through the use of battery storage provided by SunPower. Included with Helix systems at seven schools, this powerful combination of solar and storage will reduce peak demand charges and increase the district’s energy savings an estimated 54 percent more than with solar alone.

  • Higher education is learning the advantages of Helix systems. SunPower is installing solar power systems at five sites on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, including four solar parking canopies and a Helix rooftop system on the gym. This will provide around 13 percent of the campus’s annual electricity use, and a third of its peak electrical demand. Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach are also installing Helix systems.

Businesses and public agencies can contact SunPower directly about Helix systems, or they can contact one of our locally operated SunPower commercial dealers. SunPower and SunPower dealer representatives will both be knowledgeable of the product, as well as of the solar financing options, such as power purchase agreements (PPAs). PPAs may be an easy way to reduce electricity costs and achieve a hedge against rising utility rates, with no upfront capital investment.