1366 Technologies has been generating a lot of interest—and financing—as it continues to develop its new silicon wafering technology that could halve the cost of manufacturing silicon photovoltaics. Most recently it attracted $8.4 million more in financing from GE Energy Financial Services, a GE (NYSE:GE) unit, and VantagePoint Venture Partners. They join return investors North Bridge Venture Partners, Hanwha Chemical and Ventizz Capital Partners, to extend a $20 million funding round backing the company.
GE made the investment as part its strategic venture-capital investments in emerging technologies.
“We look for companies with compelling technologies and strong management teams: 1366 has both,” said GE spokesperson Christa Bowers.
The company’s silicon wafer technology promises to cut the cost and energy used to produce silicon-based photovoltaics by up to 65 percent. At the same time, it reduces the amount of silicon waste generated by the traditional process of growing silicon crystals and then cutting them into wafers, a process that requires four steps and wastes up to 50 percent of the material, according to GE.
1366 Technologies’ process, called Direct Wafer, reduces the number of steps from four to one, creating wafers directly from molten silicon.
“1366 has other manufacturing innovations, like the Self Aligned Cell,” said Laureen Sanderson, a spokesperson for 1366. “The company is actively selling the Self Aligned Cell architecture. It plans to go into production for the direct wafer technology next year.”
The cost efficiencies come not only from the new method of developing the cells, but also because it can be integrated into the current PV supply chain.
“The result is a really attractive manufacturing process that could halve the cost of photovoltaics. And the technology could enter right into the solar photovoltaics chain,” Bowers said.
The company also recently won $3 million in financing through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of solar power 75 percent to $1 per watt by the end of the decade. North Bridge Venture Partners and its partners made their initial round of $20 million in Series-B financing in October 2010.
In all, the company has now attracted more than $46 million in funds to support its wafering technology, Sanderson said.
Image courtesy of 1366 Technologies.