In a major merger in the solar industry, SunPower Corporation, previous post, (Nasdaq: SPWR - News), manufacturer of the world's highest-efficiency, commercially available solar cells and solar panels, announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire PowerLight Corp., a privately owned solar systems provider.
PowerLight is the leading global provider of large-scale solar power systems, having designed and deployed hundreds of large-scale solar systems with a total capacity of more than 100 megawatts over the past ten years. The company recently began providing complete residential solar system solutions to homebuilders. In Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Korea, PowerLight designs, develops, operates and maintains solar electric power plants ranging from one megawatt to more than 10 megawatts, including two of the world's largest solar electric power plants.
SunPower recently announced the SPR-315 solar panel which utilizes the company's newly developed 22-percent-efficient Gen 2 solar cells and carries a rated power output of 315 Watts. Improved panel efficiency was obtained through a combination of enhanced cell architecture and improved packing density. It utilizes the next generation solar cell rated at 22 % efficiency on 170um wafers, which will bring polysilicon consumption to less than 6 g/W. The SPR-315 solar panel is planned for commercial availability in the Spring of 2007.
Currently SunPower solar cells are manufactured in a facility outside of Manila capable of producing 108 megawatts per year, with the production ramp of Gen 2 solar cells on Line 4 on schedule. SunPower's 22% efficient Gen 2 technology has been manufactured in volume on existing equipment and will begin volume production over the next two quarters. Equipment has been ordered for the first two out of ten planned cell manufacturing lines in a second solar cell manufacturing facility, Fab 2, with equipment deliveries expected to begin in early 2007. These new manufacturing lines, designed to produce 22% efficient Gen 2 solar cells, have a nameplate capacity of 33 MW each. Three lines are planned to begin production in 2007 and five additional lines are planned to begin production for 2008. Adding these eight lines to the four lines at Fab 1 will bring total solar cell production capacity to approximately 372 megawatts.
"Together, SunPower and PowerLight aim to accelerate the reduction of solar power costs to compete with retail electric rates without incentives," said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO.
The aggregate consideration consists of approximately $130 million in cash and $202.5 million in stock and is expected to result in a tax-free merger for PowerLight's shareholders.
The combination of a worldwide solar installer with SunPower and their increased manufacturing capacity makes SunPower a major player in the solar industry. Their higher efficiency cells mean less panels for a given power production. Working this closely with their installer gives a further opportunity to reduce both installation and overhead costs.
PS After I had this written, but before it was posted I found this post at Cleantech Blog.