Singapore-based Maxeon Solar Technologies has announced plans to construct a $1 billion silicon solar factory in New Mexico, which will be the largest of its kind in the US. The 3-gigawatt (GW) factory will produce high-efficiency TOPCon PV-silicon cell technology and Maxeon’s shingled-cell Performance Line solar modules. The new factory will cater to both the utility-scale and rooftop solar markets in the US and beyond.
The project is expected to cost over $1 billion and is subject to a successful financial close under the US Department of Energy’s Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program. The program provides loan guarantees to eligible clean energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support domestic manufacturing.
The Maxeon factory will be the first large-scale solar PV cell and panel factory in New Mexico, and its planned capacity is around double the size of the largest silicon solar factory currently operating in the US. The 160-acre site in Albuquerque is in the community of Mesa Del Sol, a mixed-use development that aims to be a model of sustainability and innovation.
The complex will include solar cell manufacturing, panel assembly, a warehouse, and offices. Maxeon estimates that the new factory will create up to 1,800 jobs, including engineering, manufacturing, and administrative positions.
Bill Mulligan, Maxeon CEO, said:
The Inflation Reduction Act has catalyzed a new chapter in America’s energy transition. Our new solar cell and panel facility in New Mexico is an ambitious and concrete response to the need to decarbonize the US economy while creating permanent, highly skilled local manufacturing and engineering jobs.
A global leader in solar technology
Maxeon is a spin-off of SunPower, a US-based solar company that has been a pioneer in the industry for over 35 years. Maxeon designs, manufactures, and sells premium solar panels under the SunPower brand in more than 100 countries. It also offers its own Performance Line of solar modules, which are based on shingled-cell technology that maximizes power output and reliability.
Maxeon’s new factory in New Mexico will produce both TOPCon PV-silicon cells and Performance Line modules. TOPCon stands for tunnel oxide passivated contact, which is a technology that enhances the efficiency and durability of solar cells by reducing recombination losses and parasitic resistance. Performance Line modules use shingled cells that are cut into thin strips and overlapped like roof shingles, resulting in higher power density and lower degradation.
The new factory will expand Maxeon’s global manufacturing footprint, which currently includes plants in Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The company aims to leverage its technological leadership and operational excellence to meet the growing demand for clean energy in the US and around the world.
A boost for New Mexico’s economy and environment
The announcement of Maxeon’s new factory was welcomed by New Mexico’s governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who said:
This is a landmark announcement for New Mexico – a billion-dollar investment in our state by an international leader in renewable energy that will create more than a thousand good-paying jobs right here at home. This project will be transformational for our state’s economy as we continue to grow as a national leader in clean energy production.
New Mexico has abundant solar resources and a supportive policy environment for renewable energy development. The state has set a target of achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, with interim goals of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040. The state also offers various incentives for solar customers, such as net metering, tax credits, and rebates.
The new factory will not only help New Mexico meet its clean energy goals, but also reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which currently account for more than 60% of its electricity generation. According to Maxeon, the factory will have an annual production capacity equivalent to powering more than 600,000 homes with solar energy, avoiding over 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.