NASA, SunPower Install A-300 Solar Electric Power System at Flight Center

12/9/2003 - NASA and SunPower Corporation, the silicon solar cell performance leader, announced that they have completed the installation of a 5-kilowatt solar electric power system at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The system is the first to incorporate SunPower’s revolutionary 20% efficient A-300 solar cells, which are a significant improvement over currently available cells in the 12%-15% range. Higher-efficiency cells provide solar power systems with more power per unit area and can provide users with significant cost savings.

SunPower, a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp, has a history of collaboration with NASA. NASA used SunPower solar cells in its Helios solar-powered aircraft, which set an altitude record of 96,863 feet in 2001. The SunPower system at NASA Dryden will provide clean electricity while helping to educate visitors about renewable energy.

“NASA has a long history of fielding innovative, breakthrough technology at NASA Dryden,” said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp. “From the early supersonic aircraft to the space shuttle, NASA has pioneered technologies that had been previously considered impossible or impractical to implement. It is appropriate that NASA Dryden has installed the first A-300 system.”

NASA's Jenny Baer-Riedhart added, "We are pleased that NASA was able to field the first commercial application of this exciting new solar electric power technology. Over the past seven years, we have worked with SunPower to develop high-efficiency solar cells to energize our highly successful Pathfinder Plus and Helios solar-powered aircraft as part of the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology program. It's exciting to see this technology coming down to earth in their A-300 low-cost product.”

Peter Aschenbrenner, SunPower’s vice president of sales and marketing said, “The installation of the first full-scale A-300 system is a key milestone as we move toward volume production in 2004. SunPower’s high-efficiency solar cell technology not only provides more power per unit of roof area, but it can also drive significant system savings through reduced module assembly and downstream installation costs.”

About A-300
Unlike conventional solar cells, SunPower’s A-300 incorporates all electrical contacts on the back surface. This architecture allows for significantly higher conversion efficiency of light to electricity, and also eliminates unsightly reflective front-side contacts. With rated efficiency over 20%, the A-300 can deliver up to 50% more energy from a given roof area compared with traditional solar products.

About NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
The Dryden Flight Research Center is NASA's premier installation for aeronautical flight research. Dryden is the "Center of Excellence" for atmospheric flight operations. The Center's charter is to research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics, space and related technologies. It is located at Edwards, Calif., on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, 80 miles north of Los Angeles.

About SunPower
SunPower—a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY)—designs and manufactures high-performance silicon solar cells based on an interdigitated rear- contact design. SunPower’s latest A-300 solar cell achieves over 20 percent efficiency compared with currently available cells in the 12% - 15% range. The A-300 cell was developed and manufactured in SunPower’s Round Rock, Texas 2-MW facility that began operation in January 2003. The company’s initial products, introduced in 1992, were high-concentration solar cells with an efficiency of 26%. SunPower also manufactures a 22% efficient solar cell called Pegasus, which is the highest-efficiency non-concentrating silicon solar cell commercially available. An early application for the highly-efficient and lightweight Pegasus solar cell was a high-altitude solar-powered aircraft. Pilotless solar-powered airplanes and blimps, which are nearing commercialization, can stay at altitude indefinitely and serve as telecommunications platforms over populated areas. SunPower solar cells were used on the NASA-sponsored AeroVironment airplane, “Helios,” that flew to a record altitude of 96,863 feet on August 13, 2001. For more information on SunPower or solar technology, please visit the SunPower website at

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