Sunpower introduces new PV module design, offers 2016 guidance

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One constant in the solar industry is the ongoing quest to squeeze more electrons out of crystalline silicon PV modules. In the last few years this has meant the introduction of novel cell interconnection technologies, including copper wire and mesh metalization.

More recently, this has included approaches where cells are stacked on one another in rows, with a direct electrical connection that does not involve busbars or wires.

Today SunPower became the latest company to announce that it has adopted a form of this novel cell interconnection technology, unveiling its new SunPower Performance Series of PV modules based on technology is acquired with the purchase of Cogenra Solar.

The Performance Series features larger, 350 watt PV modules based on multicrystalline silicon cells, as opposed to the n-type mono upon which SunPower has built its brand.

Despite the use of multicrystalline silicon, the company says that the new module series leverages its existing intellectual property. SunPower also claims that the new modules generate 15% more power than conventional multicrystalline silicon modules, with an efficiency of 17%.

SunPower says these modules also come at a lower cost than its high-performance E-Series and X-Series modules, and notes that the P-Series is a better choice for customers with fewer constraints on roof space and particularly for markets in the developing world.

This follows the release of SunEdison’s ZERO WHITE SPACE module in October, which uses a similar design based on cell segments attached in overlapping fashion.

SunPower announced the new P-Series the same day that it released a new guidance for 2016, which predicts a fall in revenues to US$1.2-1.4 billion, despite a near-doubling of projects completed from 1.7-2.0 GW.

Additionally, SunPower expects a net loss of $415-$365 million. The company notes that this includes the impact of dropping down completed assets to 8point3 Energy Partners, its joint yieldco with First Solar.

This is not inconsistent with impacts that other PV developers have seen when they retain a larger portion of the projects they complete, as this lowers near-term revenues and margins while creating long-term value.

Additionally, yesterday Sunpower announced a 20-year power contract with with a water and power supplier in Central California. The company says that in order to meet its obligations it will start construction this month on a 54 MW solar PV project in Kern County, which it expects to complete by the end of 2016.

The project for Turlock Irrigation District will be built at the company’s Rosamond Solar site in Kern County. SunPower also expects to begin construction on another 54 MW project at the same site later this month, which will sell power to California’s Stanford University.