SunPower produces one billionth solar cell

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U.S. solar producer SunPower last week reached a landmark milestone in the company’s history – the production of its one billionth high efficiency solar PV cell.

The California-headquartered vertically integrated manufacturer first began producing its a-300 solar cell at its inaugural fabrication facility 11 years ago. Today, the company operates two fabs that have a combined annual output capacity of 1.3 GW.

To meet rising demand, SunPower has recently announced that it is to increase its production capabilities by 350 MW with the creation of a brand new fab that is scheduled to begin producing silicon cells in early 2015.

Founded in 1985, SunPower has consistently increased the efficiency of its solar cells, with today’s commercially available cells achieving efficiencies of 24.2%.

"SunPower is proud of the role we’ve played to help the global adoption of solar, which over the past 11 years has experienced a 45% annual growth rate resulting in nearly 155 GW of installed power capacity today," said SunPower CEO and president Tom Werner. "The SunPower team has worked continually to improve our manufacturing and cost reduction processes in concert with advancements in research and development, always raising our own innovation bar.

"Solar is now more affordable, with demand for the residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant markets at historic highs."

Speaking to pv magazine in August, Werner remarked that the proposed 350 MW plant was more of a production pilot line towards greater expansion in the future. "This next expansion is almost preparatory for the bigger ones that come after," he said. The new plant will be located in Southeast Asia, close to SunPower’s current module fabs.