1366 Technologies raises $15 million for solar wafer plant

1366 Technologies Inc. has announced that it has raised a $15 million investment for a new solar wafer plant. Based in Bedford in the state of Massachusetts, U.S., the company recently won approval to borrow up to $150 million, protected by a loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department.

This latest round of financing was spearheaded by Japanese silicon provider Tokuyama Corp., with 1366 stating that completion of this plant will validate the company’s manufacturing capabilities and finally see it meet the conditions set by the loan guarantee.

The proposed solar wafer plant will be able to produce 250 MW of solar cells annually, using technology devised at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The company’s "direct wafer" technique is a one-step method of producing silicon wafers – which reduces the waste, production costs and inefficiencies associated with the more conventional process of growing crystal ingots to be sliced into wafers.

Using this direct wafer technique, 1366 Technologies predicts that the new wafer plant will be able to produce 60 million wafers per year, supplying more than 30,000 American households in the process.

Emboldened by the Energy Department’s backing, 1366 hopes to expand annual production to more than 1,000 MW, having recently raised a further $62 million in VC funding from Energy Technology Ventures and VantagePoint Capital Partners.

"Our Bedford operation is well-funded and cash flow from operations will be positive in 2013," said 1366 CEO Frank van Mierlo. "This new round, led by a strong strategic partner, provides scaling capital for our next phase and is a direct result of our ability to consistently advance the technology."