SunPower (SPWR – NASDAQ) is a leading player in the solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and module industries. Its recently announced acquisition of PowerLight will make it a leading solar systems installer as well.
SunPower designs and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and solar panels. PowerLight is a leading global provider of large-scale solar power systems to commercial, public sector and residential customers. PowerLight designs, deploys and operates the largest solar power systems in the world.
Our research into the alternative energy space has led us to the conclusion that solar energy is going to be a big part of any solution to climate change. According to data from the Argonne National Laboratory, the world faces an energy gap of 14-17 terawatts (TW) annually by 2050 (1 TW = 1,000 gigawatts = 1,000,000 megawatts). When one evaluates the zero-carbon al- ternatives to close that gap, solar is by far the biggest opportunity. Due to their limitations, wind, geothermal, ocean, biomass and hydro simply cannot meet the need, although they will all play an important role. The solar industry has already been growing at a 35% plus rate in recent years, and it is likely to at least match that going forward.
SunPower’s solar cells have a rated efficiency of 20% to 21.5%, about 50% higher than other mass-produced solar cells. This means less space is necessary per watt produced. SunPower earns a premium price for its solar cells and modules due to these efficiency advantages.
SunPower plans to aggressively cut production costs for its solar cells so that its products reach cost parity with the electric grid by 2012. To do so it expects a 50% cost reduction over that time frame.