SunPower dealers will soon have access to solar panels outside of Maxeon’s portfolio, and Maxeon panels will be hitting more roofs across the country now that the two companies have agreed to end their exclusive relationship in the United States.
It’s been a rocky road for the two brands that officially divorced in 2020, when SunPower separated its manufacturing arm from its North American installation network. Maxeon would focus on supplying the global market with both utility-scale and distributed generation solar panels, and SunPower would stick to residential and new construction installs in the United States.
Maxeon was permitted to sell its shingled-PERC Performance modules to anyone in the U.S. utility-scale market but could only access the U.S. DG market through its exclusive supply agreement with SunPower. Maxeon started setting up distributor relationships in 2022 to get its M-Series panels using interdigitated back contact (IBC) technology to more residential installers in the United States. Then SunPower and Maxeon extended their exclusive partnership through 2025.
But now that exclusive relationship will be coming to an end. After March 31, 2024, Maxeon will be permitted to sell its M-Series panels to non-SunPower installers in the United States.
“In DG, our business was negatively impacted by SunPower falling behind on payments, which caused Maxeon to suspend shipments to them starting in July,” said Maxeon CEO Bill Mulligan in the company’s Q3 2023 financial results call. “I am pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement with SunPower that has allowed us to resume shipments, while mutually releasing all outstanding claims.”
SunPower will purchase 85 MW of Maxeon’s IBC panels through February 2024 and then the supply agreements will be terminated.
This is ideal timing for Maxeon, as it recently acquired former shingled-cell competitor Solaria. Maxeon now has access to Solaria’s dealer channel and all of the company’s patent portfolio.
“We expect that this transaction will expand our U.S. DG market footprint in two ways. First, incorporation of Solaria’s nationwide dealer channel will inject infrastructure, capabilities and reach that should meaningfully accelerate our direct sales efforts. Second, this transaction enables immediate access to a qualified source of tariff-free solar panels that we plan to market adjacent to our flagship IBC solar panels, allowing us to replicate in the U.S. market the ‘better-best’ product strategy we have successfully employed in our international markets for years,” Mulligan said at the time.
Maxeon is planning a 3.5-GW solar cell and panel factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that will make the Performance line of solar modules for the utility-scale market. The company is updating from PERC to TOPCon technology.