From Strength to Strengths

By:Tom Werner

August 27, 2020

Winding road next to sunrise

In 1985, SunPower was created to take the first steps toward delivering reliable solar power to the world. At that time, the concept of widespread solar energy was viewed in the same category as flying cars—utopian technologies that the company’s founders likely wouldn’t experience in their lifetimes. Yet in the three and a half decades since that time, solar energy is now an everyday reality for customers throughout the world. According to BloomgbergNEF’s New Energy Outlook 2019, solar and wind offer the lowest cost options in more than two-thirds of the world. SunPower’s 35-year history, unmatched in the industry, has no doubt played an important role in making alternative energy a viable option for all.

When I joined SunPower as CEO in 2003, the company had 35 employees and approximately $3 million in revenue; 17 years later, we have grown to nearly 7,000 employees and reported annual revenues of $1.8 billion. This remarkable growth is a credit to the innovation, hard work and dedication of thousands of outstanding SunPower team members who have built the company into an innovator and industry leader, shaping the conversation around every aspect of solar energy. Beyond solar cells, which have formed the company’s DNA since its founding, we have also led the market in the development of storage solutions and energy services, providing the tools and support necessary to enable businesses and homeowners to go solar.

SunPower has grown together with the solar industry and the broader international movement toward renewable energy. These industries have reached a turning point, and I expect demand for solar power to experience tremendous growth in the coming years. The time is right for change at SunPower, and today we completed a key strategic decision that will allow both sides of our business—solar cell manufacturing and energy services—to move forward independent of one another.

Creating two positions of power

SunPower has now split into two companies: SunPower and Maxeon Solar Technologies. This long-planned and carefully-executed transaction is designed to allow each company to execute on its strengths. Maxeon, taking its name from our well-established solar cell solution, will focus on scaling its panel technology, while SunPower will become a pure-play distributed solar, storage and energy services company. Our employees should be proud of what this transaction signifies, as both Maxeon and SunPower are now positioned to become leaders in their unique markets.

The time is right for Maxeon to pursue its own key success factors, which include scaling their new solar module technologies, establishing and expanding their international footprint and exploring new product solutions beyond the solar module. Maxeon is also well-positioned to build on the excellent sustainability platform developed together with SunPower. This isn’t the end of the relationship between our two companies, but rather a new beginning: our two companies will maintain very close ties, as SunPower maintains an exclusive supply agreement for Maxeon’s panels.

Our vision for SunPower

As SunPower moves forward as an energy solutions company, our vision is to become fully customer-centric, leveraging our differentiated solutions and capital efficiency to become the industry’s most trusted source for solar and storage services. The spinoff of Maxeon allows us to fine-tune our focus, as we aim to serve commercial and residential customers with a comprehensive solution combining our industry-leading equipment and software with focused, knowledgeable service.

It has always been a worthy goal for companies and individuals to pursue energy independence, but the events of 2020 have no doubt emphasized the enormous value in owning your energy. In California, the instability brought on by rolling blackouts and the pandemic has led to increased interest in SunPower—a 48% increase in customer-requested sales consultations in the first eight weeks of Q3 2020 when compared with the same period last year. As uncertainty becomes the theme of the year, more and more customers will turn to SunPower as the industry’s most trusted source for solar and storage services. This is a responsibility we take very seriously: our resilience becomes your independence.

The new SunPower is uniquely poised to grow and, most importantly, help new and existing customers in the coming months and years. Despite a pandemic, we are encouraged by our leading indicators which demonstrate the strength of the business going forward: New customer accounts and new system design requests have both grown to their highest levels of 2020, and they’ve experienced a double digit increase over 2019 volume during the same period. As we continue to deliver high-quality products and exceptional service, working together with a network of expert dealers and installers across the country, we will transform SunPower into a consistently profitable energy services company that leads the market into the new era of solar.