SunPower launches Quinto works

SunPower has kicked off construction at its 135MW Quinto array in California, the first utility-scale project to come under the company’s new “holdco” strategy.

In the past, SunPower typically sold its utility-scale projects before they reached commercial operation, such as the 250MW California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR), which was acquired by NRG in 2011, two years before commissioning. That strategy allowed SunPower to realise development and EPC revenues sooner.

With Quinto, however, SunPower intends to take a different tack, retaining ownership at least through construction – and perhaps into the operational phase. Doing so will yield the company a higher return, albeit one that is chalked up later.

SunPower, which is majority owned by France’s Total, is contemplating launching a yieldco, following developers like NextEra and Abengoa.

Quinto will be built using SunPower’s Oasis Power Plant system – previously used at projects like CVSR – which sees 1.5MW modular “blocks” installed using the company’s own high-efficiency modules, in a manner which reduces cost and optimises land use.

Slated for completion in late 2015, and covering about 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of land in California’s Central Valley, Quinto will sell its output to Southern California Edison under a long-term PPA.

SunPower will continue its holdco strategy with the next major project in its pipeline, the 100MW Henrietta in California, which is scheduled to enter construction next year.

In addition to its module-supply, project development and EPC businesses, SunPower is also a growing player in the US residential rooftop PV market.