SunPower Corporation is an American energy company that designs and manufactures crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and solar panels based on an all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University. The company is majority owned by Total, the fourth largest publicly-listed energy company in the world and is publicly traded on the NASDAQ as SPWR.
SunPower was started when Richard Swanson, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, was awarded grants to support his solar power explorations. With the help of these funds – as well as financial support from two venture capital firms – SunPower was officially incorporated in April 24, 1985. The original plan was to develop and market solar concentrator systems.
In 1990 the company received a research and development contract from EPRI and the US Dept. of Energy. Two years later, SunPower began shipping concentrator cells to customers. In 1995 SunPower’s all-back contact solar cells powered Honda’s solar car to victory in the annual Darwin to Adelaide race across Australia beating the second place winner by one full day. In 1997, the company’s solar cells were used in the NASA Pathfinder high altitude aircraft.
in 2002, Cypress Semiconductor invested $8 million in SunPower. The following year Tom Werner joined as CEO. In 2004, SunPower opened manufacturing facilities in the Philippines and Bavaria. The company held an IPO in 2005.
In January 2007, SunPower acquired PowerLight Corporation, a large-scale solar power systems company. In February 2010, it acquired Europe’s SunRay Renewable Energy for $277 million.
In April 2011, Total S.A. agreed to buy 60% of SunPower for US$1.38 billion. In December 2011, the company announced an agreement to acquire Tenesol SA. In 2013 SunPower acquired Greenbotics, Inc., maker of robotic solar panel cleaning products and services for large-scale solar power plants.