1366 Technologies, whose innovative approaches to solar manufacturing have the potential to halve the cost of solar energy, announced today the close of a $20 million Series B financing bringing the Company's total amount raised to $37.55 million. Korea's Hanwha Chemical and Ventizz Capital Fund IV L.P., one of Europe's leading clean technology investors, join return investors North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners in backing the company. The new round will enable 1366 to take its revolutionary Direct Wafer technology into production, a milestone the company will achieve well in advance of its original plan.
North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners are both located in Waltham MA.
"During the past two years, we have kept our cash position strong and focused on solving the key manufacturing challenges in silicon photovoltaics," said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. "We've managed expectations and steadily built our credibility. Now, with this investment, we're moving towards manufacturing. Our goal is to bring our transformative Direct Wafer technology into production and deliver the manufacturing innovations that will make solar electricity cheaper than coal."
1366's Direct Wafer technology forms a 156mm multi-crystalline wafer directly from molten silicon in a semi-continuous, capital- and silicon-efficient process. This is in stark contrast to standard multi-crystalline wafer manufacturing which involves a multi-step, batch process of ingot casting, blocking, squaring, and sawing that wastes up to 50% of the high-value silicon. By using standard silicon feedstocks and producing compatible wafers, Direct Wafer integrates into the existing silicon photovoltaics' supply chain, providing cost savings to cell customers without added complexity. The Company's rapid progress during the last year was triggered by a $4 million grant the company received from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E program in December of 2009.
In addition to its investment role, Hanwha Chemical, which just recently acquired China's SolarFun, is also planning to be a 1366 Direct Wafer customer. "Hanwha is constantly seeking to reinvent the way we deliver solar energy to the world in a more efficient and truly sustainable manner," said Ki-joon Hong, CEO of Hanwha Chemical and head of Hanwha's Solar Business Unit. "Our partnership with 1366 marks a critical step in our common commitment to provide innovative solutions for high quality solar energy at a time when the world demand for solar power is rising steeply and governments are taking aggressive steps to cut carbon emissions."
"1366's philosophy is in line with our own: renewable energy technologies must be developed in a manner that avoids lengthy times to market and uncertain demand," said Bjorn Sondgerath, Managing Partner, Ventizz Private Equity AG which exclusively advises Ventizz Capital Fund IV L.P. "By focusing on the existing silicon solar supply chain, 1366 has eliminated the now common concerns associated with other approaches – significant capital investment and a prolonged horizon. We're excited to join their other investors and have every confidence that 1366's innovations will fundamentally change solar manufacturing."
"For us, one of the most obvious benefits to 1366's approach to silicon photovoltaics is that it doesn't require heavy investment," said Carmichael Roberts, Partner, North Bridge Venture Partners. "Relative to other transformative renewable energy technologies, the company's business model is not capital intensive. By focusing on high-value manufacturing technologies that increase cell efficiencies and reduce processing costs, 1366 has created an incredibly attractive value proposition. Their promise is exceptional and North Bridge is proud to name them among its portfolio companies."
For the past year, 1366 Technologies has been actively selling its Self-Aligned Cell, a technology exclusively licensed by MIT, which features innovative cell texturing and fine-line metallization to deliver higher efficiencies for cell manufacturers.
About 1366 Technologies
1366 Technologies' eliminates the cost and production challenges that have hampered solar power's ability to replace fossil fuels. The company combines breakthrough innovations in silicon cell architecture with lean manufacturing processes to make the world's most cost effective and commercially viable high efficiency solar cells. Developed by a veteran team of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, including MIT professor and photovoltaic industry expert Dr. Emanuel Sachs, the company's novel approach breaks the historic efficiency and cost tradeoff of photovoltaics. 1366 Technologies is headquartered in Lexington, MA. For more information, please visit www.1366tech.com.