Silicon wafer manufacturer 1366 Technologies today announced it has secured $15 million in Series C funding, bringing the company’s total amount raised to $62 million. The new round is earmarked for the construction of 1366’s full-scale manufacturing facility, which will initially produce 250 MW or 60 million standard silicon wafers per year – enough to power more than 30,000 American homes – and ramp up to 1 GW annually. Building is scheduled to commence in 2014. Lead investor Tokuyama Corporation, Japan’s largest producer of ultra-pure silicon and a strategic partner of 1366’s, joins several returning investors in backing the company.
‘The team continues to make progress against our goal of delivering solar at the cost of coal. Our Bedford operation is well funded and cash flow from operations will be positive in 2013. 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,’ said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. ‘We’ve taken a very deliberate route to high-volume production. In the process we’ve built a stable, capital efficient business during the most challenging of times.’
Earlier this year, 1366 opened its demonstration factory in Bedford, Massachusetts and has since made significant progress perfecting its Direct Wafer™ technology, a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional cast-and-saw wafer production technologies. Direct Wafer™ transforms silicon to wafers in a single step, reduces capital expenditures by two thirds and cuts operating costs in half.
1366’s Direct Wafer™ production machines have now demonstrated manufacturing rates of more than 1,200 wafers per furnace per day – a dramatic increase from the 50 wafers per day of the company’s pilot furnace. During the next year, the team will continue to accelerate production to reach its manufacturing goal of more than 3,500 wafers per day (5 MW per year) for each furnace – on par with standard ingot casting furnaces while using just one third of the space. With two furnaces up and running, the technology is now closer to reaching ‘copy exact,’ where it can be easily transferred and replicated in future facilities. 1366 also continues to make rapid efficiency gains, achieving cell efficiencies of 17.2% in customer trials.
‘1366 Technologies has the enormous benefit of being a ‘drop-in’ replacement for 60 percent of the photovoltaics market, enabling the majority of panel manufacturers to readily adopt the technology and immediately realize cost and efficiency gains,’ said Hidenori Okamoto, Managing Executive Officer of Tokuyama Corporation. ‘As a strategic partner, we recognized the value in pooling our collective resources to accelerate the adoption of Direct Wafer™. As an investor, we’re strengthening that partnership and reinforcing our commitment to advancing the technology.’
In addition to Tokuyama Corporation, returning investors include North Bridge Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, VantagePoint Capital Partners and Energy Technology Ventures (a joint venture involving General Electric, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips).
About 1366 Technologies
1366 Technologies aims to deliver solar at the cost of coal. The company combines breakthrough technology innovations with lean manufacturing processes to make a new class of silicon wafers, the basic building blocks of solar cells, at a fraction of today’s cost. Developed by a veteran team of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, including photovoltaic industry expert and former MIT professor Dr. Emanuel Sachs, the company’s novel approach breaks the historic efficiency and cost tradeoff of photovoltaics. 1366 Technologies is headquartered in Bedford, MA. For more information, please visit www.1366tech.com.