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SunPower CEO: Developing markets abound for solar

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SunPower CEO Tom Werner said that "policy uncertainty"---notably reduced subsidies in Germany and Italy for solar power---is being offset by other regions throughout Europe and the rest of the globe.

SunPower CEO Tom Werner said Wednesday that "policy uncertainty"---notably reduced subsidies in Germany and Italy for solar power---is being offset by other regions throughout Europe and the rest of the globe.

Werner, speaking at the Jefferies Global Clean Technology Conference in New York, was asked a common question: Where will the growth come from.

According to Werner, the company will see growth in Italy as well as the U.S. SunPower, which provides integrated solar power systems, sees the U.S. as a continuing growth market.

Among other key regions for solar power Werner said:

Japan is going to be a big growth region, as well. We have a Toshiba joint venture there that's going quite well and we think we can expand considerably. We see a lot of -- a diverse set of regions throughout Europe that are offsetting the policy uncertainty that you see in the Big Two, which is Germany and Italy, and the policy uncertainty is more so Italy than Germany. We think there will be a big market in South Africa, India, eventually China and eventually Israel, as well. So there's plenty of developing markets. The dominant ones would be US and Japan and US will be the big driver for utility, for sure.

Other key points from Werner's talk:

  • SunPower has 1,500 dealers for its residential and commercial products.
  • The company's production capacity was 580 megawatts in 2010 and it has 1.5 gigawatts of deployed solar.
  • "I want to pound the point home that what matters to our customer is energy production. They buy kilowatt hours. And that's really clear in the utility and commercial business where you're actually contracting for the amount of energy you produce. So all solar companies want this, they want more energy. We get there through higher conversion efficiency and systems that collect energy more effectively."

Werner's presentation came a week after SunPower delivered strong fourth quarter results. Here's the recap and the growth rates:

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure