New 1366 Tech factory aims to deliver 'solar at the cost of coal'
1366 Technologies CEO Frank van Mierlo said his company is one step closer to delivering solar energy at the cost of coal.
Venture-backed solar energy company 1366 Technologies cut the ribbon on a 42,000 square-foot factory in Bedford, Mass. In a news release, 1366 called the facility "the final step in the path to commercialization of the company's Direct Wafer technology," a new solar wafer manufacturing process that purportedly cuts the cost of production in half.
The new, 25 megawatt wafer factory will house R&D operations and a "proving ground" for Direct Wafer. The company's process forms multicrystalline wafers directly from molten silicon, innovating on an existing multi-step process, according to 1366. The facility will reportedly employ 100 people.
In June, 2011, 1366 raised $150 million in U.S. Department of Energy loan commitments to build the new factory. Its completion by January 2013 meets the schedule for opening the facility, laid out by the company at the time. Then-energy Secretary Steven Chu highlighted 1366 as a "pioneering technology"; If the new plant thrives it will be a welcome success story for the Department of Energy, after the well-publicized failures of Department of Energy-backed Solyndra, A123 and Evergreen Solar.
Founded in 2008, 1366 has raised $46 million from venture capital and private equity investors, including North Bridge Venture Partners of Waltham, Mass., Polaris Venture Partners, also of Waltham, GE Energy Financial Services, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Hanwha Chemical and Ventizz Capital Partners.
“A little more than five years ago, we set out to revolutionize the solar industry by solving the greatest manufacturing challenge in the biggest solar market,” Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies, said in a statement. “Today, we’re one step closer to that goal and our mission to deliver solar at the cost of coal. We not only have our footing, we’re growing, scaling and preparing to lead in the eventual global industry turnaround. We have momentum at our back and the essential elements of success: a great team, a truly disruptive technology, capital and strong partners.”
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