Boston Business Journal - by Kyle Alspach
Date: Friday, June 17, 2011, 9:13am EDT
Venture-backed solar technology developer 1366 Technologies Inc. announced Friday it has received a $150 million loan commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy for the construction of a commercial production facility in Massachusetts along with a second, larger plant in the U.S.
The Lexington, Mass.-based company said the Massachusetts plant will be fully operational by 2013 and will produce the equivalent of 20 megawatts per year of silicon solar wafers, a building block of solar panels. The company didn't say whether a specific location has been chosen for the facility, which will employ 100 people.
Construction of the second facility — which will produce the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts of wafers a year — is set to start in 2013, 1366 said. The facility will employ 300 people and will be built in the U.S., though the location hasn't been decided, the company said.
Founded in 2008, 1366 says it has developed a new process for manufacturing solar wafers that wastes less silicon and energy, and ultimately costs 65 percent below the cost of conventional processes. The company intends to become a supplier of the wafers to solar panel makers.
In December, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu highlighted 1366 as one of the major success stories of a federal clean energy research program, known as ARPA-E. The company’s "direct wafer" process was invented by the company’s chief technology officer, Massachusetts professor and 1366 co-founder Emanuel Sachs.
The company has raised $46 million from equity investors, including a $28.4 million Series B round that included 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.