SunPower seals 100MW Japan supply deal with Toshiba

SunPower has formally unveiled a multi-year 100MW-plus extension of its module supply deal with Toshiba targeting the burgeoning Japanese residential PV market.

SunPower, which is majority owned by France’s Total, has delivered more than 70MW to Toshiba since first partnering with the electronics giant in 2010.

Their partnership has worked well and an extension has long been in the cards, but the scale of the new supply deal will see SunPower further grow its market share in Japan – where it already derives nearly 10% of its revenue.

Over a three- or five-year time horizon, the PV market is expected to blossom into a global game, with significant demand emerging in places like Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In the near-term, however, module makers are counting on three key growing markets – the US, Japan and China – to offset softening demand in western Europe.

This summer Japan implemented a generous new feed-in tariff system designed to spur both wind and solar installations. However, experts believe that only solar will see much of an immediate boost, as PV installers face much fewer environmental constraints.

Solar payouts are also good for 20 years, while the wind FIT covers only 15 years.

Unlike other internationally-known Japanese electronics companies, such as Sharp, Kyocera and Panasonic, Toshiba does not manufacture PV panels. It does, however, have ambitions to become a major system-integrator in Japan.

In addition to its supply deal with SunPower aimed at the residential market, Toshiba this summer uncorked plans to build 100MW of ground-mounted capacity in the Fukushima region by 2014 – among the largest pipelines yet announced in Japan.

US-based SunPower, which makes the highest-efficiency PV modules commercially available, claims the highest share of the residential rooftop market in California, but is also developing a suite of utility-scale projects in the US to soak up some of its 1.2GW of capacity.

The company has forecast shipments of 900MW-1.05GW in 2012.