Vertical integration has been a hot topic in the solar industry for some time. It has gotten so much attention that a debate was held to discuss the merits of integration versus network business strategies at this year’s Solar Power International.
Today, SunPower is arguing for increased integration with the acquisition of SolarBridge Technologies, Inc., an integrated microinverter company. SunPower will use this technology, which converts direct current (DC) generated by a single solar PV panel into alternating current (AC), to develop next-generation microinverters for use with SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels.
Based in Austin, Texas, SolarBridge has developed an innovative, highly reliable microinverter solution that creates roof-ready AC solar panels. Panels with these factory-integrated microinverters can be directly installed, eliminating the need to mount or assemble additional components on the roof or the side of a home, and helping to reduce the soft costs of installation.
“SunPower’s acquisition of SolarBridge 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. In this case, the combined result will provide our residential customers with an elegant, reliable and complete solution that fits their home specifications, including system design flexibility, ease of installation and maintenance, and improved overall aesthetics.”
With AC solar panels, the power generated by the solar system is optimized and monitored at each solar panel to ensure maximum energy production. The panels provide design and installation flexibility, and are suited for a wide variety of system and rooftop configurations. AC solar panels also help reduce soft costs associated with solar installations, including labor, permitting, and customer acquisition costs, which represent a significant portion of the overall system cost.