Driving Down The Cost Of Solar, 1366 Technologies Raises $20 Million

Before solar can become mainstream, the cost of producing the industry’s basic component, the solar wafer, will need to drop dramatically.

Solar startup, 1366 Technologies is trying to do just that by innovating the manufacturing process with the hope of generating energy from “solar at the cost of coal” — a tag line prominently displayed on 1366’s homepage.

1366 Technologies is now one step closer. On Tuesday, the Lexington, Massachusetts-based company announced that it has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round from Ventizz Capital Fund, Hanwha Chemical (a highly diversified Korean chemical firm), and previous investors, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

In total, the firm has raised $37.5 million. 1366’s fundraising efforts include a $4 million grant from the Department of Energy, which was issued in 2009.

1366 Technologies business is centered around their so-called “Direct Wafer” technology, a manufacturing process that efficiently reduces silicon waste (and expense) by using molten silicon — from which they can directly create multi-crystalline wafers from.  More traditional methods often require several steps, including sawing and ingot casting, during which as much as 50% of silicon material can be lost.

“During the past two years, we have kept our cash position strong and focused on solving the key manufacturing challenges in silicon photovoltaic…Now, with this investment, we’re moving towards manufacturing. Our goal is to bring our transformative Direct Wafer technology into production,” 1366’s CEO Frank van Mierlo said in a statement.

Here’s more info on the proceess: