This week’s Newday company spotlight is Sunpower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR). Founded in 1985, Sunpower is an American energy company based in San Jose, California, that designs and manufactures efficient photovoltaic cells and solar panels. Environmental and social responsibility is at the core on SunPower’s business philosophy, and the company has long been a leader in environmental stewardship, supply chain management, and socially beneficial solutions to clean energy. Here are some of the ways in which SunPower achieves its industry-leading status as a highly sustainable company.
Light on Land
Though all solar power is clean energy, there are often additional environmental impacts due to site selection. To minimize the environmental footprint of their large-scale solar installations, SunPower has developed an innovative approach deemed Light on Land, which seeks to reduce disturbances to land and natural resources while maximizing renewable energy creation. The program combines careful site selection, such as marginal agricultural land, already disturbed land, or landfills, with restorative projects like land and soil restoration or sheep grazing, a low-impact alternative to mowing. A recent 250-megawatt installation in San Luis Obispo county, California, exemplifies this approach, occupying former ranchland and hosting native vegetation as well as pronghorn sheep and local fox species.
Another area in which solar energy can have serious environmental implications is in the manufacturing process. While the energy produced is renewable, many of the materials are not. SunPower has gone to great lengths to address the impact of their manufacturing facilities, recently attaining landfill-free status at their Mexicali, Mexico plant. Among the modifications made to the plant were 1,700 panels added to the parking lot to provide power, while grey water systems combine to provide much of the agricultural water needs for the facility.