Singapore-headquartered solar manufacturer Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd, is planning to convert one of its two solar module production facilities in Mexico to manufacture shingled modules exclusively for the US market.
“The two facilities should reach a capacity of around 2.6 GW,” Maxeon Chief Revenue Officer Mark Babcock told pv magazine during the ongoing Intersolar event in Munich, Germany. “The facility in Ensenada is currently being ramped up to 800 MW and will produce our IBC modules for all markets, and the one in Mexicali should reach 1.8 GW and will manufacture only products based on the company's mono PERC shingled technology.”
Production should start again at the two facilities in late Q1. “We have committed deliveries in early Q2,” he added. “We could sell these products also in non-US markets, but right now it's more profitable shipping them there.”
The solar cells for the new production in Mexicali will be provided by Maxeon's 1.8 GW manufacturing facility in Malaysia, which will produce uniquely for the Mexican facilities. Babcock said he was not concerned about a possible investigation by the US Department of Commerce into solar cells and modules that are imported from Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. “We have been in Malaysia for years and it is not to get around anything,” he further explained. “That facility started many years ago.”
Modules produced at the two facilities will be sold as SunPower-branded rooftop products to SunPower itself and Maxeon-branded modules for the utility-scale segment. “We saw headwinds for Chinese production and we feel very strongly that our manufacturing base in China will serve the rest of the world,” Babcock said. “Given the trade restrictions with the United States, the only way to bring our products to the US market was to use our Mexican factories, which was great, as the facilities have been in operation for many years.”
Maxeon is also examining the possibility of expanding its production capacity for the US market by opening a new factory there, although no location has been identified to date. “We made that public in our latest earnings call,” he stated. “The final decision it will depend to some degree on the measures that the US congress may introduce to support solar manufacturing.”
Finding the rights partners to build the rest of the supply chain will be crucial for long-term competitiveness. “It is not only about the cells, you need the glass, the aluminum and the backsheets and without this ecosystem it will be impossible,” he concluded.
*The article was updated on October 8 to reflect that only the factory in Mexicali will serve exclusively the US market.
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