SunPower can access another $44.5 million for solar leases

While some analysts are predicting that the U.S. solar leasing market may be in decline, the value that still exists in the market segment has been demonstrated by SunPower’s accessing of another bundle of cash to roll out its solar lease product. The deal announced today, worth $44.5 million, is on top a $42 million financing deal SunPower announced with HASI in April.

"We are pleased to extend our partnership with Hannon Armstrong to further fund the demand for SunPower’s residential lease program, which is one finance option we offer homeowners," said SunPower CFO Chuck Boynton – in a statement. “The SunPower Lease program offers our customers financing under highly competitive terms for their SunPower solar panels… coupled with our unprecedented level of energy assurance.”

Anti-dumping duties

As a U.S. company with manufacturing in Malaysia and the Philippines, SunPower looks set to benefit from last week’s ruling by the U.S. Department of Commerce that anti dumping tariffs of between 26-165% on imports of crystalline silicon solar PV cells and modules from China and Taiwan. Despite this, CEO Tom Werner told pv magazine that he remains committed to free trade.

“First of all, we believe in free markets, we prefer free markets. Secondly, we’re not affected by the infringement case with the tariffs,” said Werner. “Our supply chain is engineered in a way that any tariffs are not relevant to us. Thirdly is, we saw during the downturn that companies were being supported in a way that wasn’t just justified by their cost. So the idea that our governments were supporting the industry is just factually obvious.”

Werner admitted though, that it’s likely that tariffs will affect U.S. module prices.

“To the extent that the trade dispute has happened, it has caused pricing to go up a little bit in the U.S., it’s only a few cents per watt, it’s not a huge driver, but it is a driver.”

SunPower is engaged with a range of market segments in the U.S. including residential, through leasing, loans and direct sales and utility scale. SunPower is currently in the process of adding 350 MW of cell capacity, with its Fab Four manufacturing line. Werner said that it is likely the capacity will be added in Southeast Asia.

“I think it’s a good location for the future,” said Werner. “We will competitively bid the next expansion and look at other parts of the market for our expansion. But I think that it’s fair to say that it is extremely likely that it will be Southeast Asia.”