SunPower, First Solar close on sale of yieldco 8point3

SunPower, First Solar close on sale of yieldco 8point3

Pixabay The story of yieldco 8point3 Energy Partners is coming to a conclusion. Born as the result of a tryst between two large solar companies that never really saw eye to eye and had other priorities, it experienced a promising but ultimately troubled youth, and is now wed to wed to a conservative, stable asset manager. Any rumors that it has moved to the suburbs have not been substantiated.[…]

Yesterday SunPower and First Solar closed on the sale of their respective shares of 8point3 Energy Partners to Capital Dynamics, as revealed in SEC filings. First Solar received $240 million from the sale, and SunPower $360 million.

The sale of 8point3 comes as both companies have moved away from project development and back to their original mission of manufacturing. Both First Solar and SunPower are expanding their manufacturing in different ways, which inevitably burns through cash, although the circumstances of each are different.

First Solar is currently in the midst of a billion-dollar retooling of its factories to produce the new, large-format Series 6. Along with this, it is expanding its capacity at two new factories in Vietnam and a new 1.2 GW plant in Ohio, which broke ground earlier this month.

All of this activity is expensive, and First Solar has burned through nearly 1.3 billion in cash during the last three quarters. However, at the end of the first quarter the company was still sitting on a war chest of $1.9 billion in cash and equivalents to fund its ongoing work.

SunPower is in a very different situation. Despite its technological successes, even before the Section 201 tariffs the company had been consistently unable to turn a profit. SunPower was down to $261,000 in cash and equivalents at the end of Q1, and has chosen to quit its utility-scale development activities and sell off its microinverter business to Enphase.

As such, for SunPower the sale of 8point3 brings in much-needed cash. The funds have already been committed to pay off a bridge loan that SunPower secured from a French bank a month ago. This in turn allowed SunPower to pay off convertible loan certificates, much of which were held by its majority owner, Total.

While the bridge loan was for only $300 million in principal, it is unclear how much will be left over after SunPower pays for interest and fees. But this is not the end of SunPower’s financial obligations, as it is planning to acquire SolarWorld Americas’ Oregon factory for an undisclosed price.

As for 8point3, its shares will no longer be traded on the NASDAQ, and shareholders received only $12.48 per share. This was a bitter pill for independent shareholders, and the company’s stock price collapsed in early February on the news of the terms.

At last count 8point3 held 946 MW-AC of U.S. solar projects, the vast majority of which were utility-scale and located in California.

This 32kW plane will fly twice as high as commercial jets on SunPower

This 32kW plane will fly twice as high as commercial jets on SunPower

  SunPower isn’t just powering roofs and solar farms these days. The company, which touts its solar panels as the most durable and efficient on the market, is looking at other applications. I’d be hard pressed to find one as awesome as the upcoming Mission SolarStratos expedition which will be powered by its 22-24% efficient Maxeon™ solar cells.[…]

The SolarStratos is an electric plane that has the flight characteristics of a low drag glider. It has extremely long thin wings and a very small profile. However it is outfitted with an electric motor, a very efficient front propeller, and wings and tail covered with around 24 square meters of solar panels. Inside fit up to 2 pilots in fighter configuration and what appears to be a 20kWh battery (nearly the same size as the 125 mile Hyundai IONIQ).

Interestingly this plane will not be pressurized, requiring the pilots to wear space suits that are also powered by the energy from the solar panels and stored in the battery.

Some stats from the press release (below):

  • Length: 8.5 meters – about 30 feet, or the distance from the end zone to the 10-yard line on an American football field
  • Wingspan: 24.8 meters – about 81 feet, or the length of two standard city buses
  • Weight: 450 kilograms – about as heavy as a grand piano; to make SolarStratos its lightest, the cabin will not be pressurized, requiring pilots to wear astronaut suits that are pressurized by solar energy
  • Engine: 32-kilowatt electrical engine, about one-third the size of what would power an electric vehicle
  • Energy: 22 square meters of SunPower Maxeon solar cells, each reaching 22 to 24 percent efficiency
  • Batteries: One 20-kilowatt lithium ion battery
  • Autonomy: Self-generates electricity with solar to power the plane for more than 12 hours

SunPower has been part of the solar industry consolidation of late amid lower profits, tax uncertainty and squeezing margins. Pairing up with SolarStratos is likely more marketing than actual new business model, however.

That said, and the reason it is interesting to us, is that we’re slowly moving toward electric powered flight being a reality for long haul aviation. Right now, electric aviation is limited to short flights with limited cargo but with improving battery technologies, stronger, lighter building materials and theoretically solar wings, range could be improved to where electric flight makes sense for many more applications.

Solar panels as thin as a hair, almost weightless and durable that can deliver 22-24% efficiency are an important part of that mix.

If this thing can get up to 60,000 feet and fly all day, we’re on our way.

SunPower debuts the newest record breaking 370-watt X-Series panels at Intersolar Europe

“Building on over 30 years of experience and more than 9 gigawatts of solar generating clean energy worldwide, SunPower continues to raise the bar with record-setting solar technology,” said Gabi Bunea, SunPower vice president, research and development. “By engineering greater efficiency solar panels, we can fit more watts on the roof in the same amount of space when compared to conventional solar, offering customers the best value for energy.”[…]

The 370-watt X-Series solar panel offers 60 percent more power than a conventional solar panel from the same amount of roof space over 25 years. It only takes 15 SunPower panels to produce as much energy as 22 conventional panels, which means homeowners require fewer panels to generate an equal amount of electricity. Made with third-generation SunPower® Maxeon® solar cells that are built on a solid metal foundation for high reliability and performance, SunPower panels are virtually impervious to the corrosion and cracking that typically degrade conventional panels allowing the company to offer an industry-leading 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty.

“In mature solar markets such as Europe, our customers expect high-quality, proven technology, and we’re meeting those demands with SunPower’s record-setting solar panels,” said Chris de Jong, director of Netherlands’ Isogoed Duurzaam Besparen B.V. and one of SunPower’s 1,400 installation partners operating around the world. “We look forward to helping more homeowners save on monthly electric bills with a growing range of high-efficiency, reliable solar solutions from SunPower.”

In addition, this year SunPower is expanding its suite of residential solar solutions for homeowners in EMEA and parts of APAC with the P-19 Series (P-19) solar panel offering 19 percent efficiency, which is currently available to commercial customers in select APAC markets. Engineered with the same innovative shingled cell design as the 17-percent efficient P-Series solar panel used in commercial applications, P-19 uses monocrystaline PERC solar cells to generate up to 32 percent more energy in the same space over 25 years when compared to conventional panels. The P-19 solar panel is a lower cost option compared to SunPower’s E-Series and X-Series panels, yet still delivers high quality and reliability to customers, and is also backed by SunPower’s 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty.

Visit booth A2.171 at Intersolar Europe in Germany from June 20 to 22 to speak with a SunPower expert or view the solar technology in person. To find out if the new 370-watt X-Series and P-19 solar panels are available in your area, contact your nearest SunPower installer or visit

SunPower’s Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, but not limited to, statements regarding projected energy output, cost savings, and product performance availability and efficiency. These forward-looking statements are based on our current assumptions, expectations, and beliefs and involve substantial risks and uncertainties that may cause results, performance, or achievement to materially differ from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: regulatory changes and the availability of economic incentives promoting use of solar energy, competition and market conditions in the solar and general energy industry, and fluctuations or declines in the performance of our solar panels and other products and solutions. A detailed discussion of these factors and other risks that affect our business is included in filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from time to time, including our most recent reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q, particularly under the heading “Risk Factors.” A copy of this filing is available online from the SEC or on the SEC Filings section of our Investor Relations website at All forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information currently available to us, and we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements in light of new information or future events.

SunPower's deal for SolarWorld's Hillsboro factory already facing pressure from China

SunPower’s deal for SolarWorld’s Hillsboro factory already facing pressure from China

It’s been just two months since SolarWorld agreed to sell its Hillsboro factory to a rival from Silicon Valley, but the solar landscape has already shifted considerably. Solar panel prices are falling again amid dramatic changes this week in the Chinese market. That puts more pressure on […]

SunPower, the California company buying the Hillsboro plant, to make the deal pay.

SunPower chief executive Tom Werner made his first visit to Oregon this week since agreeing to buy the SolarWorld factory in April. He said the plant must upgrade and expand production to stand out.

“We need to accelerate the pace of innovation so we can increase the competitiveness of this facility in a rapidly changing market,” Werner said.

The deal won’t close until midsummer, but once it does Werner said SunPower will move rapidly. He said the company will spend up to $15 million this year installing new equipment, and it plans to start making a higher class of more efficient solar panels in Hillsboro by the end of 2018.

After a series of layoffs and setbacks at SolarWorld’s German parent company, the Hillsboro facility is operating at 50 percent of its capacity. Werner said it needs more from the plant, in terms of volume, efficiency and technology, to compete.

“It’s not going to succeed at 50 percent,” he said. “Even at 100 percent capacity this is a very small factory by world standards.”

SolarWorld’s 480,000-square-foot Hillsboro factory opened in 2008 after the plant’s German parent spent $440 million equipping it – boosted by $100 million in Oregon tax credits and property tax breaks. The facility never thrived, though, undercut by a flood of cheap solar panels from China.

SolarWorld’s German parent company filed for insolvency last year, and SolarWorld laid off 360 Hillsboro employees, roughly half its work force.

In April, SunPower stepped in and paid an undisclosed sum to rescue the Hillsboro factory. SunPower, which makes its own panels in Malaysia and the Philippines, was looking for a way around new tariffs the Trump administration had slapped on imported solar products.

The industry expected those tariffs would trigger a rise in solar panel prices and create an incentive to move product back to the U.S. Last week, though, China ordered its utilities to stop construction of new solar farms and slashed government subsidies to the industry.

That could leave Chinese manufacturers with tremendous oversupply, prompting them to slash their own prices. Falling prices, in turn, could offset the impact of the American tariffs and renew price pressure on domestic manufacturing and on SunPower’s decision to buy the Hillsboro factory.

“I hope they have a future,” said Paula Mints, principal analyst with SPV Market Research. “The competitive stars are not aligning.”

SunPower will ultimately have to spend far more than the $15 million budgeted to make competitive products, Mints said, but that’s an expensive proposition given the industry’s pricing structure.

“The competitive pressures are brutal,” she said.

SunPower is seeking to ease that pressure by seeking a tariff exemption for its products made in the Philippines and Malaysia, outside the subsidized Chinese market the Trump administration is targeting. Werner said the tariffs will cost his company $1.5 million to $2 million a week, money he said could otherwise be spent upgrading capacity in Hillsboro.

But Mints said the Trump administration, focused on reviving America’s foundering coal industry, has no interest in cutting a solar manufacturer a break.

“The odds of getting an exemption are less than zero,” she said.

The situation is fluid, Werner said, and SunPower is weighing tradeoffs around pricing, tariffs and technology as it plans its future in Hillsboro. He said his company has to be prepared to redo its plans every six months.

Fernando and Jonathan Silver

M+S Electric on new episode of The Punch List with Jonathan Scott

There are a lot of cool things about working with the Property Brothers, and our boss Fernando learned first hand what kind of fun Jonathan can be when he helped to replace. He and cre leader Jeremy recently got to experience the glamour of being on film when they assisted Jonathan in changing out some older lighting at a appreciative homeoners residence.

Unfortunately due to the way the formats their video, we can’t upload a copy of the episode here, but we can provide a link to it for you to check out:




SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR) has high hopes for Hillsboro SolarWorld factory - Portland Business Journal

SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR) has high hopes for Hillsboro SolarWorld factory – Portland Business Journal

In SunPower Corp.’s first earnings call since announcing a deal to acquire SolarWorld Americas Inc. , analysts trying to figure out the effect of the transaction on shareholder value weren’t able to wring a purchase price out of executives. […]

But they did get hints, in addition to more information about how the San Jose-based company thinks the Hillsboro plant can help its bottom line.

“For various reasons, I cannot give the specifics of the purchase price, but we do not consider the cash consideration material to our financials,” Chairman and CEO Tom Werner said Tuesday.

Later in the call, Executive Vice President and CFO Chuck Boynton reiterated that, but did talk about the upside potential of the deal.

“What I would tell you is the bull case is extremely accretive,” Boynton said. “And again, that will unfold over the next couple of years.”

Boynton went on to say: “We think the technical synergies are quite high. We know how to run factories at a world-class level, and we can improve operations and improve reliability and quality. And so there’s a very great bull case, and we don’t put the downside cases very high. And so I would say neutral from a planning standpoint, but we think that we can do better and really drive good profits and make it significantly accretive over time.”

SunPower executives said again that they were motivated to make the deal by the Trump administration’s solar tariffs — sought by SolarWorld after its parent company SolarWorld AG went bankrupt last year.

Werner was asked by an analyst: “Simple question, would you do the SolarWorld deal if there were no Section 201 tariff?”

His one-word answer: “Unlikely.”

SunPower has said that it expects the deal to close after regulatory review by the end of June.

SunPower’s American expansion more than it seems?

SunPower agreed to acquire 100 percent of the Hillsboro, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas. Consistent with the “desire to revitalize the U.S. high-technology manufacturing sector, SunPower plans to inject fresh capital into the SolarWorld Americas facility”. […]

That is the official line. But make no mistake, the acquisition is foremost about politics, financial gains come second. One only has to consider the fact that – not so long ago – the Trump administration imposed tariffs on high-efficiency solar cells and panels made in Asia. This would affect SunPower; which up until now did not have manufacturing operations in the US. And the manufacturer has already applied for exclusion from the tariffs.

In turn, should such an exclusion be granted to SunPower, it could equate to an approximately USD 100 million annual windfall for the company and would warrant any expenses made now. At a minimum; the deal could be see as trying to appease the administration.

“We are thrilled to announce this agreement to acquire SolarWorld Americas, one of the most respected manufacturers of high-quality solar panels for more than 40 years,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board. “The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing, and SolarWorld Americas provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market. P-Series technology was invented and perfected in Silicon Valley, and will now be built in SolarWorld Americas’ factory, helping to reshape solar manufacturing in America.”

SunPower plans to invest in factory improvements and increased working capital, while retrofitting a portion of the facility to produce P-Series solar panels, in addition to continuing to produce and ship SolarWorld Americas’ legacy products.

The agreement is still subject to necessary U.S. and German regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

There's More to SunPower's U.S. Expansion Than Meets the Eye

How SunPowers purchase of SolarWorld is more that a tarrif dodging.

We don’t know what was said behind closed doors, but it has become clear that SunPower’s ( NASDAQ:SPWR ) announced acquisition of SolarWorld Americas earlier this week was driven by more than just economics. SunPower CEO Tom Werner explains that the deal “aligns” SunPower with the Trump administration’s desire to have more U.S. manufacturing, and the company’s management is clearly trying to appease the administration. […]

For SunPower, the real payoff from this deal won’t derive from gaining SolarWorld’s manufacturing plant — the key benefit will come if it wins an exclusion from tariffs for its high-efficiency solar cells and panels, which are made in Asia. SunPower is the only global manufacturer that produces interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells at scale, and no U.S. manufacturers use the technology today. Based on the uniqueness of its offerings, and the lack of a domestic competitor, the company has argued it ought to be excluded from Trump’s tariffs — which were, as followers of this saga will recall, imposed as based on a trade case brought by Suniva and … SolarWorld. If SolarWorld’s new parent gets an exclusion, it could equate to an approximately $100 million annual windfall for the company — entirely justifying the (undisclosed) price it’s paying for the business.

SunPower rooftop solar installation with Washington D.C. in the background.
Image source: SunPower.

Playing politics

SunPower’s IBC exclusion application had already led to discussions with the Trump administration. While we don’t know exactly what was said in those meetings, we do know the company thinks buying SolarWorld Americas makes getting the exclusion more likely. And just prior to the announcement of the merger deal, SolarWorld told the government it backed SunPower’s request.

Certainly it would be hard to argue that the acquisition is being made based on its direct financial value, or to boost SunPower’s operations. SolarWorld’s products are sold at a premium compared to Chinese-made commodity panels, and they still aren’t profitable, which is part of why the business was for sale. SolarWorld Americas’ parent company, SolarWorld Industries Gmbh, based in Germany, filed for insolvency last year, and is trying to shed assets. It has been looking for a buyer for its U.S. unit for about a year.

The impact of an IBC exclusion

SunPower management has said Trump’s tariffs will cost the company $1.5 million to $2 million per week. If we look at its financial guidance for 2018, management expected to be adjusted EBITDA “positive” before an exclusion, so we can now estimate that an exclusion would leave the company with about $50 million in total adjusted EBITDA this year (assuming 6 months of exclusion) and another $100 million of incremental EBITDA next year.

SunPower’s management has also said they expect the company to turn the corner to profitability late this year, so a tariff exclusion could push that transition forward. In other words, the IBC exclusion could be worth playing politics for.

Is this part of a bigger move back to the U.S.?

Improving its chances of getting a tariff exclusion for its high-efficiency IBC product may be the main driver of SunPower’s SolarWorld Americas acquisition, but there could be more to it.

SunPower’s P-Series solar panel, which is built using commodity cells in a way that makes it slightly more efficient than traditionally manufactured panels, could factor into a U.S. manufacturing strategy as well. The company plans to convert 25% to 50% of SolarWorld’s 550 MW in panel manufacturing capacity to P-Series, but that could be just a start.

Modern solar manufacturing facilities have the capacity to churn out 1,000 MW of product or more annually, so to make it competitive, SunPower will need to expand the Oregon plant, or build a new one. This deal may have laid the groundwork for the company to work with the Trump administration on a subsidy package that would make that U.S. manufacturing expansion more financially feasible.


We don’t know what was said behind closed doors, but it has become clear that SunPower’s (NASDAQ:SPWR) announced acquisition of SolarWorld Americas earlier this week was driven by more than just economics. CEO Tom Werner told me the deal “aligns” SunPower with the Trump administration’s desire to have more U.S. manufacturing, and the company’s management is clearly trying to appease the administration.

SunPower to buy SolarWorld Americas in deal that will blunt impact of Trump tariffs on imported panels

SunPower to buy SolarWorld Americas in deal that will blunt impact of Trump tariffs on imported panels

SunPower plans to ‘inject fresh capital’ in SolarWorld’s plant in Oregon SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) has agreed to acquire competitor SolarWorld Americas of Hillsboro, Oregon, as SunPower looks to capitalize on what it called “strong U.S. market demand” for solar panels and to reduce the impact of Trump administration […]

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) has agreed to acquire competitor SolarWorld Americas of Hillsboro, Oregon, as SunPower looks to capitalize on what it called “strong U.S. market demand” for solar panels and to reduce the impact of Trump administration tariffs on imported panels.

SunPower did not say what it will pay for SolarWorld Americas. However, it did say it plans to “inject fresh capital” into the SolarWorld Americas facility in Oregon, though it did not specify the size of the planned investment.

Reuters noted that while SunPower is based in San Jose, California, most of its manufacturing is in Mexico and the Philippines. Reuters said the Trump administration tariffs were the result in part of a solar trade case brought by U.S. manufacturers, including SolarWorld, which claimed they could not compete with cheap imports.

Shares of SunPower were down around 5% in premarket trading on Monday, at US$9.20 a share.

Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman, said SolarWorld Americas “provides a great platform for us to implement our advanced P-Series solar panel manufacturing technology right here in our home market.”

“P-Series technology was invented and perfected in Silicon Valley, and will now be built in SolarWorld Americas’ factory, helping to reshape solar manufacturing in America,” Werner said.

Jürgen Stein, CEO of SolarWorld Americas, said the company is “thrilled about this acquisition as it means quite simply that our company can look forward to redoubled strength as it continues to innovate and expand into the future.”

SunPower said it will invest in factory improvements while retrofitting a portion of the Oregon facility to produce P-Series solar panels, “in addition to continuing to produce and ship SolarWorld Americas’ legacy products.”

SunPower said the agreement is subject to U.S. and German regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. At closing, which is expected in the next several months, SunPower said it will become the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer.

Solar panel maker SunPower is buying tariff-loving rival that hurt its sales

Solar panel maker SunPower is buying tariff-loving rival that hurt its sales

The panel maker, which spent more than a year fighting U.S. import tariffs, announced Wednesday that it is buying a rival that was instrumental in pushing for them. The purchase of SolarWorld Americas for an undisclosed sum includes an Oregon factory that will help SunPower avoid the duties. […]

SunPower’s stock surged the most in more than three years on the news. With promised investment in the SolarWorld factory, the deal marks at least the second announced expansion of U.S. panel manufacturing since January, when President Trump imposed the tariffs of as much as 30%.

The deal follows China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co., the world’s biggest publicly traded solar company, which is planning a factory in Florida. Last month, JinkoSolar announced a four-year supply agreement with NextEra Energy Inc., which cited the advantages of buying cost-effective, U.S.-made products.

Shares of San Jose-based SunPower rose as much as 17%, their biggest intraday gain since February 2015. They finished the day up 11.9% at $9.34.

The Oregon plant has the capacity to turn out as much as 430 megawatts of cells and 550 megawatts of panels a year. SunPower plans to revamp the facility to produce its high-efficiency P-Series modules.

“Tariffs changed the equation,” said Hugh Bromley, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s a little strange that SunPower would buy the company that helped cause the tariffs, but it’s clear they wanted some U.S. manufacturing.”