What Does The A-Series Launch Mean For SunPower?

by Trefis Team
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Last week, SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) unveiled its new A-Series panels – which are the company’s first products that incorporate its next-generation (NGT) solar panel technology. SunPower is likely counting on these panels to move down the cost curve, offering products that are increasingly competitive with mass-market offerings, while providing the signature high-efficiency that its products have been known for. In this note, we take a look at what the launch could mean for SunPower.

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How The New Panels Can Add Value To Residential Users

The A-Series panels will be the first commercial solar panels to offer 400 to 415 watts of rated capacity and will come with a microinverter integrated. The panels will offer efficiencies of between 21.5% to 22.3% at the module level, much like SunPower’s higher-end panels. These panels could benefit customers and installers in multiple ways. Firstly, the larger panel capacity of 400 watts would mean that fewer panels would be required for a given system, reducing installation costs while making the overall setup more space-efficient. In comparison, most residential solar panels have under 300 watts. As the panels also have inverters integrated into them, without the need for an external centralized inverter system, it could make the process of wiring much simpler. Inverters convert the direct current (DC) produced by a solar panel into an alternating current (AC) that can be used by residential users.

Will SunPower Be Able To Price The Panels Competitively?

However, SunPower’s ability to produce these panels at costs that compete with lower-efficiency mass market panels will be key to their success. While the company has not disclosed pricing details, it had previously indicated that its next-generation technology based panels would be priced at par with widely available mono-PERC solar panels. The product effectively packs larger solar cells called the Gen 5 (65% larger cell than previous generations) and this should help the company reduce its overall cost per watt and panel assembly costs. Moreover, SunPower’s panels are not subject to the Section 201 tariffs that its other silicon-based solar rivals need to pay for imports to the U.S., and this could also give it a relative cost advantage. During its Q4’18 conference call, the company indicated that it expects over 100 MW of NGT panel deployment during 2019, with capacity expected to ramp up to 250 MW by the end of the year.

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