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 pondering ways to deal with the oil crisis. At that time, solar cells were being used on satellites, a concept 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 1980s

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 U.S. 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.

SunPower NASA's Pathfinder

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 airplanes.

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

 SunPower all-back contact, high efficiency solar cells power a Honda car to victory in a car race across Australia, beating second place winner 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 became 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 96,863 feet.

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 for 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 serving the residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant markets.
  • A second manufacturing facility (Fab 2) with 330 MW capacity rating on 10 lines, comes on line in the Philippines.

SunPower announces a world-record monocrystalline polysilicon 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 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 polysilicon 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 airplane, 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 levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants.

SunPower acquires French solar company Tenesol SA, further increasing our global footprint.