1366 Technologies last week held the grand opening of a 42,000 square-foot Bedford factory where the company will manufacture solar wafers.
The 25 megawatt manufacturing facility, located at 6 Preston Court in Bedford, will employ 100 people and will focus on the production of the Direct Wafer, according to a press release from 1366.
The Direct Wafer will bring 1366 closer to its ultimate goal of making solar energy more affordable by cutting the cost of the silicon wafers used in solar panels
The Direct Wafer "forms multicrystalline wafers directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multi-step, energy- and capital-intensive process," according to the release.
“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 last week. “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.
According to the Globe’s report from the opening last week, the Bedford facility is “the first step in an investor- and government-finances growth plan for 1366 Technologies” and will test the company’s process for cutting the time and cost needed to make silicon wafers used in solar panels.
Reports the Globe:
Most manufacturers need four steps to make a wafer, but 1366 Technologies does it [in] one by shaping the components individually from molten silicon and setting the thin sheets inside a furnace.
As the Bedford facility comes online, the company expects is Direct Wafer production “to surge from thousands of wafers to millions” as 1366’s engineers and scientist fine tune the process for future replication.
“We not only have our footing, we’re growing, scaling and preparing to lead in the eventual global industry turnaround,” van Mierlo said in the press release. “We have momentum at our back and the essential elements of success: A great team, a truly disruptive technology, capital and strong partners.”
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 Massachusetts in the future.
1366 will begin a search for the location of its second facility later this year.