Wacker Chemie AG (Wacker), a global polysilicon manufacturer and supplier headquartered in Munich, Germany, announced to invest in 1366 Technologies (1366) through a long-term strategic partnership involving in a US$1.5 million equity investment. The investment will accelerate commercialization of 1366’s kerfless technology.
“We see the potential for the Direct Wafer technology to provide an excellent contribution to accelerate global solar adoption. 1366 has developed a commercially valid answer to a long-time manufacturing challenge. We’re eager to add our high quality products and bring our expertise to the effort,” said Ewald Schindlbeck, President, Wacker Polysilicon.
Wacker is the only western polysilicon manufacturer that can ship tariff-free products to the Chinese market. The company decided to support 1366 developing the kerfless wafer technology by not only offering equity investment, but also supplying silicon and technical collaboration.
1366’s Direct Wafer® is now supported two German PV giants
1366 has won a five-year, 700MW Direct Wafer supply contract from Hanwha Q CELLS and a US$10 million series C round equity investment respectively in April and May 2016. By then, 1366 has secured US$32.5 million in its series C round.
Q CELLS purchases the wafers for manufacturing Q.ANTUM series polycrystalline cells. According to a one-year research conducted between Q CELLS and 1366, conversion efficiency of PV cells used Direct Wafer technology would achieve 19.1%.
Wacker’s US$15 million equity investment brought 1366’s series C round to US$47.5 million. Furthermore, 1366 is now officially supported by two Germany-based major PV manufacturers.
1366’s Direct Wafer technology is a transformative manufacturing process that offers significant advantages over traditional ingot-based production technologies. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.
1366’s New York factory: underway
1366 plans to build a 250MW wafer fab for producing Direct Wafer products, representing the world’s first commercialization of kerfless technology. The fab is scheduled to be completed in 2017, yet it is not yet ground-broken.
"We’re currently going through environmental reviews and other requisite tasks associated with readying the a new site - we’re the first tenant in what will eventually become a large advanced manufacturing park - and are working very closely with the State to move things along as quickly as possible," said 1366 Spokesperon Laureen Sanderson to PV Magazine. "The construction timeline is contingent on how quickly these early critical efforts proceed."
Although the factory construction is suspended, 1366 has already secured a 700MW wafer contract with Q CELLS and formed a partnership with Wacker in terms of silicon materials and plant constructions. 1366 also noted that Wacker’s US$15 million investment will pay for the first US$15 million in silicon it needs for the factory.
Sanderson added that the partnership with Wacker marked an important milestone for 1366 because it demonstrated the market’s acceptance to Direct Wafer as well as firmed the factory’s financial requirement.
(Photo Credit: 1366 Technologies)