The company will build a factory in the Philippines that will be able to produce 350 megawatts of panels a year and is expected to go into production in 2015, bringing San Jose-based SunPower's total annual cell capacity to more than 1.8 gigawatts, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said Wednesda on a conference call with analysts.
SunPower is the first solar producer to announce expansion plans as the industry comes out of a two-year slump triggered by a global oversupply, said Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco. With demand surging in markets from Asia to the Americas, he expects other manufacturers to follow suit.
"I think you'll see others start to step up production capacity as new global markets emerge," Kallo said.
SunPower's plants have been running at full capacity for the past two quarters. The company produced 313 megawatts of panels in the third quarter, up 38 percent from a year earlier, and expects to have 1 gigawatt to 1.03 gigawatts of production for the full year, according to a presentation on its website. Werner said production in 2014 will increase by as much as 300 megawatts.
"I think next year what we see happening is the emergence of South America," he said in an interview. "In 2015 we expect to see more projects in the emerging markets."