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SunPower acquires SolarBridge Technologies Inc.

Purchase of microinverter specialist enhances SunPower’s residential product portfolio.

SunPower Corporation has purchased SolarBridge Technologies, Inc., a leader in integrated microinverter technologies for the solar industry. With the purchase, SunPower aims to utilize SolarBridge’s integrated microinverter technology to develop next generation microinverters for use with SunPower's high-efficiency solar panels.1  

Financial terms of the acquisition, which essentially expands its residential product portfolio, were not disclosed.

“SunPower’s acquisition of SolarBridge 2 and its high-performance microinverter technology will allow us to develop a differentiated product specifically optimized for our high efficiency solar panels,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “This is the beginning of integrating electronics into our world-class solar panel technology.”  

Microinverters have rapidly emerged in the US residential PV market, and are predicted to account for over 40 per cent of the inverter shipped to this segment in 2014, estimates IHS Technology. They are predicted to slowly continue gaining share, and the total market for residential PV installations is predicted to grow by 16 per cent per year on average over the next five years.

The challenge for SunPower in benefitting from this trend, according to Sam Wilkinson, research manager at IHS, is that the high power of its modules means that most standard microinverters are not suitable for it. “Acquiring microinverter technology will enable it to optimize a product for use with its modules and streamline the process of integrating it,” Wilkinson explained. “The inverter can be adjusted and optimized for its high efficiency modules, and it will take control over the complete process.”

Solarbridge has aggressively promoted the AC module approach, IHS research shows. The main benefits of this approach (compared to a standalone microinverter) is that on-site installation time is greatly reduced as the microinverter and module are installed as one piece. IHS forecasts that AC modules will be the fastest growing microinverter type, swelling over 100% per year to reach over 800MW in global shipments in 2018.

Microinverters  convert direct current (DC) generated by a single solar photovoltaic panel into alternating current (AC).

Based in Austin, Texas, SolarBridge has developed an innovative, highly reliable microinverter solution for roof-ready AC solar panels.  Panels with these factory-integrated microinverters can be directly installed, thereby eliminating the need to mount or assemble additional components on the roof or the side of a home, the company stated.  

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar heating and cooling