SunPower (SPWRA) To Form JV With AUO, Will Accelerate Fab 3 Ramp

SunPower just announced that they are forming a joint venture with thin-film crystal LCD manufacturer AU Optronics Corp. Per the agreement, the two companies will jointly own and operate the 1.4 gigawatt third solar cell fabrication plant (called Fab 3) that SunPower is in the process of building in Malaysia. By bringing AUO into the joint venture, SunPower plans to reduce costs for the project and have it completed more quickly.

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In a press release, Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO, commented on the joint venture:

“AUO’s proven ability to rapidly scale advanced manufacturing technology while driving consistent, aggressive cost reduction makes them the ideal partner to help SunPower ramp Fab 3. We expect this JV will reduce our effective Fab 3 capital expense per watt by more than 35 percent while capitalizing on AUO’s world-class manufacturing expertise to reduce solar cell manufacturing costs. As a result of SunPower’s downstream channel investments, demand has been rapidly increasing for our differentiated high-efficiency solar panels and systems. We believe that this JV will enable us to produce more megawatts faster, at lower cost, with substantially less cash contribution from SunPower.”