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22/08/2018 News

How SunPower is changing the world with solar power




Earlier this decade, Total and SunPower entered into a partnership with the aim of driving forward technological development and growth in the solar power industry. By combining each company’s expertise, resources and long-term stability, the partnership has allowed SunPower to become a force in the solar energy market, now and for years to come – here’s how.


Bridging energy growth and decarbonisation 


Global electricity demand continues to increase. According to the European Environment Agency, between 2006 and 2030 the world will experience a 40.7% jump in per-capita electricity consumption, ranging from 24.2% growth in OECD Europe, to gigantic jumps of 165.2% and 190.8% in China and India, respectively.


This increase is driven by human development and economic growth. Historically, increased energy usage has led to increased emissions, but as countries work to reduce their carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, all while trying to meet the extra demand posed by the electrification of transport – find out more in our recent blog – growth and emissions need to begin decoupling.


That’s where SunPower comes in. SunPower produces the highest-efficiency photovoltaic panels commercially available1, manufactured with best-in-industry cell technology that converts more than 25% of the sun’s energy into electricity, all while generating up to 60% more energy than conventional panels in the same space over 25 years2. Indeed, the company’s best products provide record-breaking technology for commercially available solar cells.


Combined with a far greater lifespan and much lower lifetime energy losses compared to conventional panels,3 SunPower provides energy density at a cost that could feasibly allow solar panels to replace fossil fuel power in the future.


SunPower cells achieve leading energy density through a unique ‘back contact’ design. Cells are built on a solid copper foundation using ultra-pure silicon with a light-trapping front surface to convert industry-leading levels of sunlight to energy. The solid copper foundation ensures they can cope with decades of intense weather conditions, whether the skies are filled with intense sunshine or heavy storms.


Driving small-scale solar


Solar panels are an excellent way for homeowners and business owners to decarbonise and gain control over their electricity supply – buyers can even earn credits on their electricity bill via selling excess energy generated back to the grid.


Alongside being environmentally and financially sound investments, there are plenty of other ways SunPower has driven private and commercial solar uptake, from providing a 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty, to designing modular panels that benefit the aesthetics of structures, instead of being purely functional.


One of the most important drivers, however, has been the streamlining of the company’s order process. After contacting SunPower, customers are assigned to an Authorized SunPower Partner. This qualified solar installer provides a customised SunPower proposal that sets out every detail concerning the project and quote. After that, the SunPower Partner handles all permits and incentives, alongside installing, connecting and testing the solar power system. The system is then ready to use, headache-free.


Improving solar utilities 


To provide energy to industries, businesses and homes that lack solar, cost-effective and efficient solar power plant systems are needed. SunPower has produced some of the most energy-dense solar power plants in the world, pioneering large, modular facilities that meet the electricity needs of tens, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of homes.


SunPower systems are easily implemented thanks to a vertically integrated organisation that takes care of every aspect of development from manufacturing, to finance and O&M. SunPower’s leading warranty coverage, robust products, and efficient robotic cleaning systems, make SunPower’s utility-level solar systems an all-encompassing solution for utilities operators.


Raising solar acclaim 


One of the best ways to ensure the public is aware of the benefits of solar is through pushing the technology to its limit. Whether it’s powering world-circumnavigating solar planes; attempting land-speed records; developing ground-breaking, solar-powered boats; or setting records for commercially available panel efficiency, SunPower has been at the forefront of raising the acclaim of solar technology from the likes of science fiction to the everyday.


Total owns an interest in over 1.6 GWp of solar installations, and a big part of this is down to SunPower’s approach to producing and providing solar energy. It all helps Total to be an integrated energy provider, ready for the future. For more information, visit SunPower online or contact our team.



1Based on search of datasheet values from websites of top 20 manufacturers per IHS, as of January 2018


2SunPower 360W compared to a Conventional Panel on same sized arrays (260W, 16% efficient, approx. 1.6 m2), 4% more energy per watt (based on PVSyst pan files), 0.75%/yr slower degradation (Campeau, Z. et al. "SunPower Module Degradation Rate," SunPower white paper, 2013).


3SunPower predicts its panels will have a useful life of more than 40 years. "SunPower Module 40-Year Useful Life," SunPower white paper. 2013.  Useful life is 99 out of 100 panels operating at more than 70% of rated power