After years working at the pilot scale, wafer producer 1366 Technologies appears to be getting ready for mass production. Earlier this month the company announced that it would will build its first commercial-scale wafer factory in Upstate new York, with an initial capacity to produce enough wafers for 250 MW of PV cells.
Today, 1366 announced that solar cells with an average efficiency of 19% have been produced by customers using the company’s Direct Wafer product and passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cell technology. One customer has produced a champion result of 19.1%, as verified by Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE.
More importantly, 1366 says that these results were produced on industrial lines, not in the lab. The company operates three Direct Wafer furnaces at its facility in Bedford, Massachusetts, which it says will serve as a blueprint for its first commercial-scale facility in New York to house 50 of the furnaces.
1366 produces wafers directly from molten silicon, as opposed to the conventional method of sawing wafers from silicon ingots. The company cites multiple advantages to this approach, including dramatically reduced silicon waste, less energy use, a smaller space requirement and a potential for much lower costs.
We are well on way to producing high performance wafers at a cost of less than US$0.40 each at GW scale, commented 1366 CEO Frank van Mierlo.
Additionally, 1366 says that its Direct Wafers feature a much more uniform quality than wafers produced using conventional methods.