SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR) has high hopes for Hillsboro SolarWorld factory – Portland Business Journal

SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR) has high hopes for Hillsboro SolarWorld factory - Portland Business Journal

In SunPower Corp.’s first earnings call since announcing a deal to acquire SolarWorld Americas Inc. , analysts trying to figure out the effect of the transaction on shareholder value weren’t able to wring a purchase price out of executives. […]

But they did get hints, in addition to more information about how the San Jose-based company thinks the Hillsboro plant can help its bottom line.

“For various reasons, I cannot give the specifics of the purchase price, but we do not consider the cash consideration material to our financials,” Chairman and CEO Tom Werner said Tuesday.

Later in the call, Executive Vice President and CFO Chuck Boynton reiterated that, but did talk about the upside potential of the deal.

“What I would tell you is the bull case is extremely accretive,” Boynton said. “And again, that will unfold over the next couple of years.”

Boynton went on to say: “We think the technical synergies are quite high. We know how to run factories at a world-class level, and we can improve operations and improve reliability and quality. And so there’s a very great bull case, and we don’t put the downside cases very high. And so I would say neutral from a planning standpoint, but we think that we can do better and really drive good profits and make it significantly accretive over time.”

SunPower executives said again that they were motivated to make the deal by the Trump administration’s solar tariffs — sought by SolarWorld after its parent company SolarWorld AG went bankrupt last year.

Werner was asked by an analyst: “Simple question, would you do the SolarWorld deal if there were no Section 201 tariff?”

His one-word answer: “Unlikely.”

SunPower has said that it expects the deal to close after regulatory review by the end of June.

SunPower’s American expansion more than it seems?

SunPower agreed to acquire 100 percent of the Hillsboro, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas. Consistent with the “desire to revitalize the U.S. high-technology manufacturing sector, SunPower plans to inject fresh capital into the SolarWorld Americas facility”. […]

That is the official line. But make no mistake, the acquisition is foremost about politics, financial gains come second. One only has to consider the fact that – not so long ago – the Trump administration imposed tariffs on high-efficiency solar cells and panels made in Asia. This would affect SunPower; which up until now did not have manufacturing operations in the US. And the manufacturer has already applied for exclusion from the tariffs.

In turn, should such an exclusion be granted to SunPower, it could equate to an approximately USD 100 million annual windfall for the company and would warrant any expenses made now. At a minimum; the deal could be see as trying to appease the administration.

“We are thrilled to announce this agreement to acquire SolarWorld Americas, one of the most respected manufacturers of high-quality solar panels for more than 40 years,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board. “The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing, and SolarWorld Americas provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market. P-Series technology was invented and perfected in Silicon Valley, and will now be built in SolarWorld Americas’ factory, helping to reshape solar manufacturing in America.”

SunPower plans to invest in factory improvements and increased working capital, while retrofitting a portion of the facility to produce P-Series solar panels, in addition to continuing to produce and ship SolarWorld Americas’ legacy products.

The agreement is still subject to necessary U.S. and German regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

How SunPowers purchase of SolarWorld is more that a tarrif dodging.

There's More to SunPower's U.S. Expansion Than Meets the Eye

We don’t know what was said behind closed doors, but it has become clear that SunPower’s ( NASDAQ:SPWR ) announced acquisition of SolarWorld Americas earlier this week was driven by more than just economics. SunPower CEO Tom Werner explains that the deal “aligns” SunPower with the Trump administration’s desire to have more U.S. manufacturing, and the company’s management is clearly trying to appease the administration. […]

For SunPower, the real payoff from this deal won’t derive from gaining SolarWorld’s manufacturing plant — the key benefit will come if it wins an exclusion from tariffs for its high-efficiency solar cells and panels, which are made in Asia. SunPower is the only global manufacturer that produces interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells at scale, and no U.S. manufacturers use the technology today. Based on the uniqueness of its offerings, and the lack of a domestic competitor, the company has argued it ought to be excluded from Trump’s tariffs — which were, as followers of this saga will recall, imposed as based on a trade case brought by Suniva and … SolarWorld. If SolarWorld’s new parent gets an exclusion, it could equate to an approximately $100 million annual windfall for the company — entirely justifying the (undisclosed) price it’s paying for the business.

SunPower rooftop solar installation with Washington D.C. in the background.
Image source: SunPower.

Playing politics

SunPower’s IBC exclusion application had already led to discussions with the Trump administration. While we don’t know exactly what was said in those meetings, we do know the company thinks buying SolarWorld Americas makes getting the exclusion more likely. And just prior to the announcement of the merger deal, SolarWorld told the government it backed SunPower’s request.

Certainly it would be hard to argue that the acquisition is being made based on its direct financial value, or to boost SunPower’s operations. SolarWorld’s products are sold at a premium compared to Chinese-made commodity panels, and they still aren’t profitable, which is part of why the business was for sale. SolarWorld Americas’ parent company, SolarWorld Industries Gmbh, based in Germany, filed for insolvency last year, and is trying to shed assets. It has been looking for a buyer for its U.S. unit for about a year.

The impact of an IBC exclusion

SunPower management has said Trump’s tariffs will cost the company $1.5 million to $2 million per week. If we look at its financial guidance for 2018, management expected to be adjusted EBITDA “positive” before an exclusion, so we can now estimate that an exclusion would leave the company with about $50 million in total adjusted EBITDA this year (assuming 6 months of exclusion) and another $100 million of incremental EBITDA next year.

SunPower’s management has also said they expect the company to turn the corner to profitability late this year, so a tariff exclusion could push that transition forward. In other words, the IBC exclusion could be worth playing politics for.

Is this part of a bigger move back to the U.S.?

Improving its chances of getting a tariff exclusion for its high-efficiency IBC product may be the main driver of SunPower’s SolarWorld Americas acquisition, but there could be more to it.

SunPower’s P-Series solar panel, which is built using commodity cells in a way that makes it slightly more efficient than traditionally manufactured panels, could factor into a U.S. manufacturing strategy as well. The company plans to convert 25% to 50% of SolarWorld’s 550 MW in panel manufacturing capacity to P-Series, but that could be just a start.

Modern solar manufacturing facilities have the capacity to churn out 1,000 MW of product or more annually, so to make it competitive, SunPower will need to expand the Oregon plant, or build a new one. This deal may have laid the groundwork for the company to work with the Trump administration on a subsidy package that would make that U.S. manufacturing expansion more financially feasible.

 

We don’t know what was said behind closed doors, but it has become clear that SunPower’s (NASDAQ:SPWR) announced acquisition of SolarWorld Americas earlier this week was driven by more than just economics. CEO Tom Werner told me the deal “aligns” SunPower with the Trump administration’s desire to have more U.S. manufacturing, and the company’s management is clearly trying to appease the administration.

SunPower to buy SolarWorld Americas in deal that will blunt impact of Trump tariffs on imported panels

SunPower to buy SolarWorld Americas in deal that will blunt impact of Trump tariffs on imported panels

SunPower plans to ‘inject fresh capital’ in SolarWorld’s plant in Oregon SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) has agreed to acquire competitor SolarWorld Americas of Hillsboro, Oregon, as SunPower looks to capitalize on what it called “strong U.S. market demand” for solar panels and to reduce the impact of Trump administration […]

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) has agreed to acquire competitor SolarWorld Americas of Hillsboro, Oregon, as SunPower looks to capitalize on what it called “strong U.S. market demand” for solar panels and to reduce the impact of Trump administration tariffs on imported panels.

SunPower did not say what it will pay for SolarWorld Americas. However, it did say it plans to “inject fresh capital” into the SolarWorld Americas facility in Oregon, though it did not specify the size of the planned investment.

Reuters noted that while SunPower is based in San Jose, California, most of its manufacturing is in Mexico and the Philippines. Reuters said the Trump administration tariffs were the result in part of a solar trade case brought by U.S. manufacturers, including SolarWorld, which claimed they could not compete with cheap imports.

Shares of SunPower were down around 5% in premarket trading on Monday, at US$9.20 a share.

Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman, said SolarWorld Americas “provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market.”

“P-Series technology was invented and perfected in Silicon Valley, and will now be built in SolarWorld Americas’ factory, helping to reshape solar manufacturing in America,” Werner said.

Jürgen Stein, CEO of SolarWorld Americas, said the company is “thrilled about this acquisition as it means quite simply that our company can look forward to redoubled strength as it continues to innovate and expand into the future.”

SunPower said it will invest in factory improvements while retrofitting a portion of the Oregon facility to produce P-Series solar panels, “in addition to continuing to produce and ship SolarWorld Americas’ legacy products.”

SunPower said the agreement is subject to U.S. and German regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. At closing, which is expected in the next several months, SunPower said it will become the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer.

Solar panel maker SunPower is buying tariff-loving rival that hurt its sales

Solar panel maker SunPower is buying tariff-loving rival that hurt its sales

The panel maker, which spent more than a year fighting U.S. import tariffs, announced Wednesday that it is buying a rival that was instrumental in pushing for them. The purchase of SolarWorld Americas for an undisclosed sum includes an Oregon factory that will help SunPower avoid the duties. […]

SunPower’s stock surged the most in more than three years on the news. With promised investment in the SolarWorld factory, the deal marks at least the second announced expansion of U.S. panel manufacturing since January, when President Trump imposed the tariffs of as much as 30%.

The deal follows China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co., the world’s biggest publicly traded solar company, which is planning a factory in Florida. Last month, JinkoSolar announced a four-year supply agreement with NextEra Energy Inc., which cited the advantages of buying cost-effective, U.S.-made products.

Shares of San Jose-based SunPower rose as much as 17%, their biggest intraday gain since February 2015. They finished the day up 11.9% at $9.34.

The Oregon plant has the capacity to turn out as much as 430 megawatts of cells and 550 megawatts of panels a year. SunPower plans to revamp the facility to produce its high-efficiency P-Series modules.

“Tariffs changed the equation,” said Hugh Bromley, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s a little strange that SunPower would buy the company that helped cause the tariffs, but it’s clear they wanted some U.S. manufacturing.”

Worth Watching Stock: Sunpower Corporation (SPWR)

Worth Watching Stock: Sunpower Corporation (SPWR)

Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) up 1.84% to close at the price of $8.3. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.16 Billion however its outstanding shares are 139.41 Million. The company’s beta value stood at 2.56.

Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) has an ABR of 2.7 which is the combined stock view of 10 analysts poll results. As per Zacks simplified descending rating scale the ABR rank is displayed in the range of 1 to 5 where 1 represents Strong Buy and 5 a Strong Sell. As the name implies that ABR will show you the Average of Brokerage Recommendations on a given stock. It helps you quickly get a picture of where Wall Street stands on a stock without reading huge research reports. The smaller number of ABR is the more favorable. The modest value of the stock is known as the current ABR of the stock.

However out of 10 analysts 1 suggest Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) a Strong Buy, 2 suggested Buy, 8 Hold and 2 Sell, while 0 analysts recommend the stock a Strong Sell.

Analysts are expecting average earnings estimates of $-0.3 for the current quarter based on the opinion of 15 analysts, relating to high earnings per share estimates of $0.14 and low estimates of $-0.6, however Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) reported $-0.36 earnings per share for the same quarter last year.

For the current quarter Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) has average revenue estimates of $359.13 Million, a total number of 11 analysts provided estimations over revenues. However the low revenue estimates for the company are $311 Million versus high revenue estimates of $484.5 Million. A year ago the company’s sales were $429490 while its sales growth yearly estimates for the current quarter are -16.4%.

Taking a broader look at the analyst consensus, brokerage firms have a price target of $7.73 on Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR). Brokerage firms on the street have price targets on the name ranging from $5 to $12 based on 12 opinions.

Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) as of current trade, has shown weekly performance of 9.93% which was maintained at 15.92% in one month period. Year to date performance remained at -1.54%. During the past three months the stock gain -4.93%, however six months performance of the stock remained at 16.9%. Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR)’s price sits 10.6% above from its SMA 50 of $7.52 and -0.36% far from the SMA 200 which is at $7.82.

Currently Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR)’s shares owned by insiders are 0.8%, whereas shares owned by institutional owners are 29.1%. However the six-month change in the insider ownership was recorded -2.07%, as well as three-month change in the institutional ownership was recorded -0.11%.

The stock is trading -29.06% away from its 52 week high of $11.70 and 35.84% far from the stock’s low point over the past 52 weeks, which was $6.11.

The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings. Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR)’s price to earnings ratio stood at 0. A high P/E suggests that investors are expecting higher earnings growth in the future compared to companies with a lower P/E. A low P/E can indicate either that a company may currently be undervalued or that the company is doing exceptionally well relative to its past trends.

The PEG ratio is used to determine a stock’s value while taking the company’s earnings growth into account, and is considered to provide a more complete picture than the P/E. Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) has a current PEG of 0. Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR)’s price to sales ratio for trailing twelve month stands at 0.62, whereas its price to book ratio for the most recent quarters is at 8.14. However the company’s price to cash per share for most recent quarter stands at 3.12. Its price to free cash flow for trailing twelve months is 2.66.

Vandenberg Air Force Base’s 28-Megawatt Solar Power System from SunPower Now Fully Operational

,
Vendenberg is now solar powered

Lompoc, California. The power generated by the system is expected to meet about 35 percent of the base’s energy needs. “Access to reliable, resilient electricity to meet operational needs is a priority for the U.S. Air Force, and this solar project enables us to increase our own energy security […]

“Access to reliable, resilient electricity to meet operational needs is a priority for the U.S. Air Force, and this solar project enables us to increase our own energy security at Vandenberg with competitively priced, dependable solar energy from SunPower,” said Ken Domako, Chief of Portfolio Optimization at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The base will purchase electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement, providing Vandenberg with competitive, fixed electricity rates, and the Air Force will retain all of the associated environmental credits. Alabama-headquartered Regions Bank provided the capital required for the solar project, eliminating the need for capital expenditures by the Air Force. Cornerstone Financial Advisors, LLC served as financial advisor to Regions Bank on this transaction.

The onsite system is the largest Air Force solar project in which the Air Force consumes all of the energy produced.

“The Air Force is committed to incorporating modern, clean energy technology like solar to provide diverse energy sources for our warfighter,” said Dan Soto, Air Force Civil Engineer Center rates and renewables division chief. “With support on this project from solar technology innovator SunPower, we’re improving energy resiliency, optimizing demand, and assuring supply at Vandenberg over the long term.”

The project features SunPower® Oasis® power plant technology which is a fully-integrated, modular solar power block system engineered for rapid deployment and land use optimization. The Vandenberg system is generating solar electricity from land that has gone unused for over decade and is a former Air Force housing site. The system is expected to provide 54,500 megawatt hours of energy annually – equivalent to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from 8,600 cars for one year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our government customers clearly understand the environmental and economic value in transitioning from traditional to renewable energy sources, and SunPower is pleased to support the U.S. Air Force’s progress with our high-performing solar technology,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president, commercial solar. “With a SunPower system designed to cost-effectively maximize power generation, Vandenberg can expect to see energy savings for decades.”

SunPower is a solar advisor to various federal government agencies, deploying solar power systems at military facilities nationwide including more than 28 megawatts at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada; 10 megawatts of solar and 1 megawatt of energy storage at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama; 13.78 megawatts at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake; as well as 5.6 megawatts at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

About SunPower
As one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable energy companies, SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) provides a diverse group of customers with complete solar solutions and services. Residential customers, businesses, governments, schools and utilities around the globe rely on SunPower’s more than 30 years of proven experience. From the first flip of the switch, SunPower delivers maximum value and superb performance throughout the long life of every solar system. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, SunPower has dedicated, customer-focused employees in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. For more information about how SunPower is changing the way our world is powered, visit www.sunpower.com.

SunPower’s Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, but not limited to, statements regarding project plans and timelines, relative generating capacity, projected energy output, and expected cost savings. These forward-looking statements are based on our current assumptions, expectations, and beliefs and involve substantial risks and uncertainties that may cause results, performance, or achievement to materially differ from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: regulatory changes and the availability of economic incentives promoting use of solar energy, challenges inherent in constructing and maintaining certain of our large projects, competition and market conditions in the solar and general energy industry, and fluctuations or declines in the performance of our solar panels and other products and solutions. A detailed discussion of these factors and other risks that affect our business is included in filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from time to time, including our most recent report on Form 10-K, particularly under the heading “Risk Factors.” Copies of these filings are available online from the SEC or on the SEC Filings section of our Investor Relations website at investors.sunpowercorp.com. All forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information currently available to us, and we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements in light of new information or future events.

© 2018 SunPower Corporation. All Rights Reserved. SUNPOWER, the SUNPOWER logo and OASIS are registered trademarks of SunPower Corporation in the U.S. and other countries as well.

SOURCE SunPower Corp.

SunPower Set to Create New Photovoltaic Production Facility in U.S.

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump wanted more U.S. solar-power manufacturing jobs when he cracked down on imports — now he’s getting them.

SunPower Corp. will announce in about three weeks plans for a U.S. photovoltaic production plant to make some of the panels it now makes abroad, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said Friday in a phone interview. The U.S.-based company currently makes most of its power-generating panels in Asia and Mexico.

The choice of location is between two sites in two western states, Werner said. Production would begin in less than 10 months, and the company will speed that up by selecting an unused, existing plant. But it’s too soon to disclose manufacturing capacity or employment at the new facility, he said.

“This is a decision driven by the direction that this administration wants to go,” Werner said.

Tariffs were a factor, and SunPower, based in San Jose, California, will continue a tariff exemption request for other equipment it imports, Werner said. So was capturing market share in the U.S. West, where panels are most in demand, he said. Photovoltaic Production in the United States would partially exempt SunPower from the 30% tariff’s that President Trump levied earlier this year against solar panel importers whose Photovoltaic Production is done in foreign markets.

photovoltaic production by country

The news comes hours after China-based JinkoSolar Holding Co. said it will open a plant in Jacksonville, Florida, that will employ 200 people making 7 million solar panels over four years for NextEra Energy Inc., owner of the state’s largest utility.

When he enacted the tariffs in January, Trump said the duties will encourage solar manufacturing in the U.S. “Our action today helps to create jobs in America, for Americans,” he said.

Should SunPower build the photovoltaic production plant in the U.S. they can make the claim that thier panels are made in America, potentially removing the tariffs levied by the President earlier this year.

SunPower seeks tariff waiver, cites plan for U.S. expansion

SunPower seeks tariff waiver, cites plan for U.S. expansion

(Reuters) – SunPower Corp ( SPWR.O ) on Friday asked the Trump administration to exempt a segment of its solar panel imports from new tariffs, saying the move would allow it to reverse proposed investment cuts and ease plans to expand U.S. panel manufacturing. […]

The request by SunPower, which is majority owned by France’s Total SA (TOTF.PA), marks the first attempt by a major U.S. solar company to sidestep a controversial 30 percent levy on imported panels announced by President Donald Trump in January.

Trump had said the tariff would boost U.S. manufacturing, but many in the industry have warned of higher costs and thousands of layoffs in the much-bigger installation end of the solar industry.

“We understand the administration’s goals,” SunPower Chief Executive Tom Werner said in an interview. “We think we can contribute positively to those objectives.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It could not determined which other companies had filed such requests with the U.S. Trade Representative by the deadline on Friday.

SunPower’s request covers only its imported premium, high-efficiency panels, and not the less efficient and cheaper “P-series” panels which dominate the market, Werner said.

San Jose, California-based SunPower manufactures most of its panels in the Philippines and Mexico.

Werner said an exemption would allow SunPower to “materially” reverse a decision made immediately after the tariff announcement in January to cancel a $20 million investment in its next-generation cell technology that would have created hundreds of jobs in California and Texas . SunPower last month said the tariff would force it to cut 150 to 250 non-manufacturing jobs.

The cheaper P-series panels could be made at a new U.S. facility that the company would build, probably in the Southwest, Werner said, noting that SunPower was in the process of narrowing down its options to two locations.

“This is not hypothetical. We’re ready to make this happen,” he said, adding that an exemption for premium panel imports would “facilitate” this plan.

A big investment in solar panel manufacturing as a result of the tariff would mark a win for the Trump administration, but so far the industry remains focused on the fate of the installation business, which employs tens of thousands of people.

Only China’s JinkoSolar (JKS.N) has said it plans to build a U.S. manufacturing facility, and SolarWorld, one of the panel producers behind the trade case that resulted in the tariffs, has said it will hire 200 employees this year.

Suniva, the bankrupt company that first petitioned the administration in April to impose tariffs, has not publicly outlined its plans.

The exemption request will undergo a 30-day comment period before the U.S. Trade Representative makes a decision.

SunPower: Tariff Exclusion Would Free Funds to Open New US Solar Manufacturing Facilities

SunPower: Tariff Exclusion Would Free Funds to Open New US Solar Manufacturing Facilities

SunPower Corporation would like an exclusion from the 30% Solar Tariff’s The President has imposed on imported Solar Panels and if they receive that exclusion, they plan to build a manufacturing plant in the U.S. […]

Solar industry stakeholders filed applications with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative last week seeking exclusions from the Trump administration’s 30 percent tariff on imported solar products.

Requests were due Friday night and a total of 55 comments were ultimately received, according to the USTR docket.

California-based Solaria Corporation, Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells and EU ProSun, a group representing 80 percent of European solar cell and module production, were among those to submit requests. Inverter manufacturers Enphase and SolarEdge also filed comments seeking exemptions for their integrated solar module products.

U.S. solar firm SunPower — one of the companies hardest hit by the trade action — made its case too. The company specifically requested to have its Copper-Plated IBC Cells and Copper-Plated Modules excluded from the safeguard measures Trump placed on imported crystalline-silicon (CSPV) solar cells and modules.

“Copper-plated, interdigitated back contact (IBC) technology is fundamentally different than other solar technologies, whether silicon-based or otherwise,” the filing states.

In the absence of a tariff exclusion, SunPower said it will have to follow through on layoffs and forego investments in U.S.-based solar manufacturing.

“We are a leading innovator that has made significant research and development investments in the U.S. and we have helped to stimulate the American economy with many thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” the filing states. “While the tariffs have contributed to layoffs for SunPower, those job losses would be materially reversed and manufacturing and research and development jobs added, should we receive an exclusion.”

“In particular, an exclusion for both our Copper-Plated IBC Cells and Copper-Plated Modules would free SunPower to devote substantial resources that otherwise would be dedicated to satisfying its additional customs duty liability to investments in next-generation research and development in the United States, as well as the establishment of U.S. manufacturing facilities dedicated to SunPower’s P-Series modules, for which an exclusion is not being requested.”

“The 201 process motivated us”

SunPower’s decision to establish new module manufacturing operations in the U.S. stems from the recent Section 201 trade case, said CEO Tom Werner.

“We’re always evaluating the state of manufacturing and where to manufacture, and the 201 process motivated us to further evaluate doing P-Series manufacturing in the U.S.,” he said in an interview.

P-Series panels are based on the technology SunPower acquired through Cogenra. The company claims the shingled design eliminates many of the reliability challenges associated with traditional front contact panels, while offering superior power and efficiency.

The U.S. is a well-suited location to manufacture these solar panels “because the equipment we acquired from Cogenra is unique and highly automated and configurable to satisfy local demand in a flexible way,” Werner said.

He added that opening new U.S.-manufacturing facilities — should SunPower be exempt from the Trump administration’s safeguard measures — would create jobs “on the order of hundreds.” Likely in the low hundreds, he said, but couldn’t commit to a specific number at this point.

Meanwhile, one of the few companies to announce new or expanded U.S.-based manufacturing in the wake of Trump’s tariff decision, Jinko Solar, has dramatically scaled-down its plans. The Chinese company was initially planning to invest $410 million on a solar module assembly and distribution facility in Jacksonville, Florida and create 800 jobs in the process — which was the most promising employment news to stem from the trade case. Under a new agreement, however, Jinko will invest a total of $50.5 million and create just 200 jobs.

SunPower argues its case

SunPower: Tariff Exclusion Would Free Funds to Open New US Solar Manufacturing Facilities

SunPower currently produces most of its solar panels in Asia and Mexico. But the company noted that its copper-plated, IBC technology was conceived and developed in the U.S. and claimed that the patents and manufacturing processes associated with it are considered American assets.

Trade actions disproportionately affect SunPower’s products because its technology comes at a higher price, which stems from higher-cost raw materials and considerably more complex manufacturing procedures. At the same time, because these products have a unique design and distinct features, they’re not directly competitive with conventional CSPV solar products, SunPower argued.

Solar modules made with copper-plated, IBC technology offer superior efficiency, superior durability, better aesthetics and better overall performance, according to SunPower. The technology is also available from only one source, and because of that a safeguard exclusion would be easy to administer.

Another one of SunPower’s key arguments is that granting an exclusion request furthers the objectives of the safeguard measures, while addressing unintended negative consequences. The Section 201 case, like previous U.S. solar trade cases, targeted artificially-low-priced solar products — based on the conventional solar technology employed by petitioners in those cases — that were being dumped in the U.S. market in increasing amounts.

“Solar products based on copper-plated, IBC comprise a small percentage of total solar imports, have not been imported in materially increasing quantities, have not benefited from unfair trade practices, and have struggled to compete against products targeted in past trade actions,” SunPower stated.

Imports of copper-plated IBC products have been limited over the past few years, while imports of front-contact CSPV products surged. If excluded, SunPower IBC modules will continue to comprise a small share of total solar imports and “would not be a material threat to the domestic solar manufacturing industry.”

SunPower requested that exclusions for its products be applied retroactively to February 7, the effective date of the safeguard measures, and that U.S. Customs and Border Protection refund any tariffs paid on SunPower’s copper-plated products as a consequence of the trade action.

A decision on exemptions could come as early as late May, following a 30-day public comment period.