After a string of massive losses, SunPower is working to overtake its enterprise and financials.
In September, the California-based photo voltaic producer and growth firm formally exited utility-scale growth, and following its Q1 earnings name this month CEO Tom Werner advised Greentech Media that “SunPower will turn into an vitality service supplier” quite than a solar-only store.
In the meantime, the Portland Enterprise Journal reported final week that SunPower has positioned the Oregon manufacturing facility it bought final yr from SolarWorld in the marketplace, with plans to lease again the portion of the power it makes use of.
Amid these modifications, Werner elaborated on the corporate’s evolving imaginative and prescient in an interview on the sidelines of GTM’s annual Photo voltaic Summit final week.
SunPower is already managing its enterprise in two segments: SunPower Power Companies, which encompasses residential and business photo voltaic techniques, and SunPower Applied sciences, the manufacturing aspect.
Spokesperson Natalie Wymer advised GTM that promoting the Oregon facility and leasing again the portion SunPower wants for manufacturing is a “prudent financial transfer.” SunPower employs solely about 200 individuals there, the place SolarWorld had as much as 800 employees on the 480,000-square-foot location. Wymer stated the sale doesn’t impression SunPower’s higher imaginative and prescient or dedication to U.S. manufacturing.
Nonetheless, it is clear that SunPower is inserting a a lot heavier emphasis on the providers aspect of its enterprise going ahead.
The corporate plans to unveil new capabilities for its all-in-one Equinox residential system this fall, including storage plus providers to the photo voltaic techniques it already delivers. Sooner or later, Werner stated, the corporate will work to assist clients with charge arbitrage and different grid providers.
“Now, it is a imaginative and prescient. A imaginative and prescient isn’t a marketing strategy,” Werner added. “The marketing strategy is promote extra storage and providers.”
Werner stated SunPower is presently working to check its Equinox storage techniques and guarantee they’re prepared for launch, which it hopes will spur extra sellers towards “one-stop procuring” of the corporate’s merchandise. (It already has an inverter-integrated module, now in partnership with Enphase.)
“Because the years go by, we’ll lead with the photo voltaic system, however we’ll combine providers and storage. Ultimately our imaginative and prescient is, we’ll say to the client: ‘We’ll take over your vitality invoice,’” stated Werner, including that it’ll cut back prices for purchasers.
Going ahead, SunPower will promote techniques as they’re constructed, offloading business leases at “discover to proceed” and residential leases after they hit business operation. Pairing that growth with ongoing grid providers will enable the corporate to create worth by way of one-time gross sales in addition to ongoing income from providers.
Service revenues are only a fraction of the corporate’s enterprise as we speak, however by subsequent yr they are going to be a “a lot greater quantity,” Werner stated.
The corporate is already beginning to perform a part of its grand imaginative and prescient on the business and industrial aspect, the place it sells its photo voltaic with a battery and demand-charge administration software program, which Werner stated provides “stacked income.”
SunPower can be dabbling in grid service capability bids in wholesale markets. Final yr, the corporate bid a small quantity into ISO New England. It plans to increase these efforts with time.
“Business providers [and] grid providers capability [are] taking place as I communicate,” stated Werner. “As wholesale markets evolve, we’ll be there.”
Increasing the grid providers imaginative and prescient to the residential aspect, he stated, will likely be tougher. That’s as a result of smaller, extra distributed techniques imply larger variable use of vitality versus extra centralized business techniques.
As SunPower grows additional into this house, Werner stated partnerships — and probably acquisitions as soon as it will get on a extra strong monetary footing — will assist the corporate increase its attain and acquire competencies.
Many different market gamers “share the imaginative and prescient in some kind,” based on Werner. He pointed to Sunrun — which can be pairing photo voltaic with storage and bidding into wholesale markets — and Nationwide Grid within the residential house and European utilities equivalent to Engie plus oil and gasoline firms like Shell in business and industrial.
Whereas that can create competitors as the general market modifications and the position of utilities versus builders versus service suppliers turns into extra muddled, Werner stated SunPower’s positioning throughout the photo voltaic market ought to present a bonus.
“Solely the paranoid survive,” he stated, citing a typical enterprise adage. “We’re actually paranoid.”