Focus On Manufacturing SunPower Monocrystalline Solar Panels Efficiency and Improvements:
SunPower’s monocrystalline panels offer the highest conversion efficiencies in the industry with some of its panels such as the X-series offering efficiencies as high as 21.5%. The typical polysilicon panel on the other hand has an efficiency of around 15%. Higher efficiency panels are positive for gross margins since they actually require a smaller quantity of raw materials to manufacture each watt while actually commanding a pricing premium over conventional panels in the marketplace. SunPower has cut down its polysilicon consumption from around 4.4 grams per watt to around 4.1 grams earlier this year, owing in part to efficiency improvements.
SunPower has also been improving its manufacturing process to produce thinner wafers with a higher efficiency and better yields. In 2012, the company was able to reduce its panels manufacturing costs by around 25%, and we believe that these continued manufacturing improvements are likely to help margins.