Today (Nov. 4) SunPower Corp. announced plans to build out a new a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturing facility in Cape Town, South Africa. The new facility, which will start producing PV modules there in 2015, will be capable of producing up to 160 megawatts of PV modules annually when the facility is completed.
"SunPower has a significant presence in the South African solar market, including two large power plants built this year and another one that will begin construction soon. By manufacturing our high efficiency solar panels at this new facility, we will not only help the local economy, but continue to deliver clean, renewable energy to this region," said Marty Neese, SunPower COO. "Our investment in this new plant is part of our commitment to the local South African PV market, and meets our objective to build a sustainable business through local investment and create jobs in the medium and long-term."
SunPower did not mention the new production facility in its third quarter 2014 results, which were issued last week (Oct. 29). However, SunPower President of Regions Howard Wenger acknowledged the company's business there. “In Africa, we're seeing more demand,” he said. “Tom [Werner, Sunpower CEO] mentioned a project that we're building in South Africa, and that we're going to be building another large project in 2015 there, over 80-megawatt project in South Africa. So there's parts of Africa that are actually emerging as being quite interesting.”
The new facility will help SunPower meet the needs of customers in the region. The company observed that by having production facilities close to its markets it helps to minimize transportation costs and reduces environmental impact. It also shows the company is on a resumed growth path. During the earnings call last week the company also said it is continuing to build out its 350 megawatt Fab 4 manufacturing plant in the Philippines, which should also begin producing PV in 2015.
At the new Cape Town facility SunPower will manufacture its E20/440 Solar Panels. But the facility will also become the company's South African headquarters and will house its Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and Operations & Management (O&M) offices in the country. The company anticipates hiring 150 employees to produce modules at the new facility when it’s completed.Tweet