When it comes to jewelry, copper is definitely less valuable than gold or silver. In the world of assembly, however, copper is much more in demand. Its uses range from electrical conductors in wire, to solar-cell foundations, to sheet metal products for commercial and residential applications.

Since 1980, Thunderbird Products has specialized in manufacturing high-quality copper products such as drains, vents and flashings. Based in El Cajon, CA, the company was the first to create a seamless copper roof drain, and it currently offers more than 700 products made of copper, stainless steel and TPO (thermoplastic olefin)-cladded metal.

As for company priorities, sustainability and cost-effective operations are the most important to President David Carnick. So, last fall he decided to convert the company’s building to solar power. Carnick had contractor Sullivan Solar Power install a 74.43-kilowatt-AC solar photovoltaic system on the roof.

The system consists of 252 SunPower 327-watt solar panels that produce more than 135,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually. Carnick says the system is continuously monitored to ensure that it operates at full capacity. Equally important, the system will save Thunderbird more than $1.4 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.

“Considering the energy intensive nature of our business, going solar was a no-brainer for us,” says Carnick. “We are excited to benefit from the financial savings, but we know going solar means there are benefits for the environment as well.”

Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, says the Thunderbird system is projected to annually eliminate the creation of 100 tons of carbon dioxide pollution and the burning of more than 101,200 pounds of coal. He notes that the project is the company’s largest solar installation in El Cajon to date, and that Sullivan Solar installations now generate more than 1.5 megawatts of solar power in the region.

“This installation represents why El Cajon is a leader in the solar energy revolution,” claims Sullivan. “Solar energy is the most effective solution for reducing energy costs in the manufacturing industry and offers the local industry an advantage over its
competitors on a national scale.” 

SunPower Corp. makes SunPower 327 solar panels, which feature Maxeon Gen II solar cells. These cells have a solid copper foundation that is virtually impervious to corrosion and cracking, even when impacted by 1-inch-diameter hail at 52 mph. The panels are also energy efficient, produce a nominal power of 327 watts and have a power tolerance of ±5 percent. Each panel weighs 41 pounds and features a Class 1 black anodized-aluminum frame.

Sullivan Solar Power has completed residential, commercial and municipal projects in southern California that produce more than 39 million watts of solar power. Company awards include being named the best solar power company in 2016 by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

SunPower Corp. opened in the late 1970s and has developed more than 750 patents for solar technology. It makes several series of solar panels, which have generated more than 18 million megawatt-hours of solar energy.

For more information on solar panels, call 800-786-7693 or visit www.sunpower.com.