SunPower has been developing record-breaking solar technology since the 1970s. Our history over these decades has been marked by creativity, craftsmanship – and confidence.

SunPower Founder Dr. Richard Swanson


Our record of solar innovation began nearly four decades ago, when our co-founder, Dr Richard Swanson, was thinking about ways to deal with the oil crisis. At that time, solar cells were being used on satellites, a concept that he found intriguing. His engineering challenge was to figure out how to make the cells more cost effective. So he began a quest that, almost 40 years later, has helped position SunPower as a leader in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar power production.

SunPower team 1980


By 1985, Dr Swanson (who by then was a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford) had been awarded grants from the Electric Power Research Institute and the US Department of Energy 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 1985.

NASA's Pathfinder solar-powered aircraft


In the 1990s, SunPower received initial funding from Associate Venture Investors and Technology Funding and an R&D contract from EPRI and US DOE. SunPower solar technology was used to power some of the most innovative applications for solar power race cars and aeroplanes.


SunPower receives initial funding from Associate Venture Investors and an R&D contract from EPRI and the US Department of Energy.


SunPower all-back contact, high-efficiency solar cells power a Honda car to victory in a race across Australia, beating the second place car by one full day.


SunPower® high-efficiency solar cells power NASA’s Pathfinder, an unmanned, remotely piloted, solar-powered, high-altitude aircraft.

SunPower at NASDAQ


This decade was filled with many accomplishments and milestones for SunPower. The company was publicly listed on the NASDAQ with CEO Tom Werner taking the company to new levels. SunPower set new world records in solar cell efficiency.


Our world-record efficiency A-300 solar cells power NASA’s Helios project, achieving a record altitude of 29.52 km.


The Cypress Semiconductor board invests $8 million in SunPower.


SunPower recruits Tom Werner as CEO to take the company to the next level.


Our first manufacturing facility (Fab 1) comes online in the Philippines and the company’s first utility-scale power plant comes online in Bavaria.


A successful initial public offering fuels new growth and a solidified position in the solar market.


  • SunPower begins volume production of its record-breaking high-efficiency solar cell, averaging 22.4% conversion efficiency.
  • SunPower acquires PowerLight, resulting in a vertically integrated company that serves the residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant markets.
  • A second manufacturing facility (Fab 2) with 330 MW capacity rating on 10 lines comes online in the Philippines.


SunPower announces a world-record monocrystalline silicon prototype solar cell with efficiency of 23.4%.


  • President Obama dedicates a 25 MW SunPower solar power plant system at Florida Power & Light’s Desoto installation.
  • PlanetSolar chooses SunPower high-efficiency solar cells to power the world's largest solar catamaran.
SunPower C7 solar tracker


Through constant innovation and new partnerships, SunPower reaches new heights to become a global leader in the solar industry.


SunPower announces a world-record monocrystalline silicon prototype cell with efficiency of 24.2%.


  • Total SA and SunPower partner to create a new global leader in the solar industry.
  • SunPower® Maxeon® solar cell technology powers Solar Impulse, a prototype solar aeroplane that, for the first time in aviation history, succeeds in flying for 26 consecutive hours powered only by solar energy.
  • SunPower launches the C7 Tracker which concentrates the sun's power seven times to achieve the lowest levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants.


  • SunPower acquires French solar company Tenesol SA, further increasing its global footprint.
  • SunPower announces the availability of its world-record efficiency solar panel in Australia.
  • SunPower supplies Toshiba with a 20.1% efficiency solar panel for the Japanese market.
  • SunPower Solar Science Academy inspires students across California.


  • Solar Impulse, the solar-powered aeroplane powered by SunPower solar cells, successfully flies across America.
  • SunPower and US Bancorp team up to offer deposit-free financing and direct-from-manufacturer performance guarantee.
  • SunPower announces acquisition of Greenbotics, Inc. to offer robotic solar panel cleaning products and services for large-scale solar power plants. 


  • SunPower achieves a production milestone, manufacturing its one-billionth solar cell.
  • SunPower solar panels awarded Cradle to Cradle Certification for sustainable manufacturing processes. The first and only solar company to achieve this recognition.
  • SunPower acquires SolarBridge Technologies, Inc. for high-performance microinverter technology that offers system design flexibility and lower cost of installation.
  • SunPower invests in integrated technology solutions to help customers manage their cost of energy, reinforcing the company's evolution to offering Smart Energy solutions for its residential, commercial and utility customers.


  • First Solar and SunPower announce the public filing of a registration statement for the proposed initial public offering of a YieldCo.
  • SunPower celebrates its 30th anniversary.