Earlier in February 1366 Technologies held the grand opening of a solar wafer manufacturing plant in Bedford where the company plans to focus on developing its Direct Wafer technology.
The Bedford plant will serve as a cornerstone for what 1366 hopes to be a revolution in the way solar wafers are manufactured, according to vice president of business development Craig Lund.
"The goal is to completely revolutionize wafer manufacturing around the world," Lund said. "We have no small ambitions."
With the Direct Wafer 1366 aims to cut down on the cost of solar wafers as well as on the time it takes to manufacture the wafers, according to Lund, and the Bedford plant will be ground zero for the development of this technology.
The pervasive manufacturing process for solar wafers as it currently stands takes about six days, according to Lund, where the Direct Wafer technology that 1366 has been developing for the last three to four years does the same in about 20 seconds.
The Direct Wafer "forms multicrystalline wafers directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive process," according to a press release from 1366.
"With the Bedford factory we'll be proving and optimizing the process," Lund said. "Our goal is by 2020 to have captured a quarter of the market. There's still plenty of room to grow."
Lund said he believes the Direct Wafer manufacturing process could help depoliticize the issue of alternative energy on the national level.
"There's a lot of politics involved in energy," Lund said. "One way to take politics out of energy is to make energy so cheap it's obvious."
Expansion for 1366 won't stop with the Bedford plant, as the company received a $150 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy back in 2011, allowing 1366 to plan for a larger, second factory in the future.
1366 will begin a search for the location of its second facility later this year, according to Lund.
“A little more than five years ago, we set out to revolutionize the solar industry by solving the greatest manufacturing challenge in the biggest solar market,” Frank van Mierlo, chief executive officer of 1366 Technologies, said in remarks made around the plant’s opening. “Today, we’re one step closer to that goal and our mission to deliver solar at the cost of coal."
With the doors to the Bedford factory now open, 1366 aims to increase production of its Direct Wafer from thousands to millions within the next year.