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New cutting-edge factory could boost the US to lead of clean energy race: 'Now we're seeing it in the states'

"We're already seeing that in Southeast Asia."

“We’re already seeing that in Southeast Asia."

Photo Credit: Maxeon

Solar energy is one of the best sources of carbon-free power, producing electricity without the need for dirty fuel that pollutes the Earth's atmosphere and leads to global heating.

The technology continues to develop, and a United States-based company is looking to build its latest advancements at a new factory in New Mexico, according to Canary Media.

Maxeon — which began its life in Silicon Valley in the 1980s before breaking off from founding company SunPower and starting anew in 2020 — has been producing its solar panels in Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines in the last few years.

However, with funding incoming from the U.S. Department of Energy's Loans Programs Office, the company is looking to break ground on a new facility in Albuquerque in 2024. 

It's hoped the factory will deliver up to 8 million panels a year featuring its interdigitated back contact (IBC) technology to generate three gigawatts of power annually. As Canary Media noted, the U.S. solar industry as a whole brought five gigawatts worth of panels to completion in 2022. 

Maxeon's presence in the U.S. should help wean the country off panels imported from overseas, notably China, while the focus will be on providing the technology for utility departments rather than domestic and commercial rooftops. 

Maxeon owns the record for solar efficiency, with its latest IBC technology achieving 24.7% efficiency, as PV Magazine reported

Moving operations to the U.S. could be a game-changer not just for Maxeon's success but for clean-power generation in the country that has typically relied on outside sources for its supply of solar panels

"The technology that will dominate is the one that can supply the lowest levelized cost of electricity with the lowest overall capital," Maxeon's chief technology officer Matt Dawson told Canary Media, noting that China had achieved this in the last few years thanks to the strength of its supply chain.

"But as more countries become concerned about their energy independence, solar is likely to be manufactured in a lot of places outside of China," he continued. "We're already seeing that in Southeast Asia – now we're seeing it in the States, and we may see it very soon in Europe."

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