1366 Technologies Gets $15 Million for Solar Wafer Plant

1366 Technologies Inc., a supplier of solar wafers that qualified for a U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, raised $15 million in a Series C financing round led by the Japanese silicon provider Tokuyama Corp.

The funds will be used to build a factory that will be able to produce enough silicon wafers for 250 megawatts of solar cells a year, the Bedford, Massachusetts-based company said today in a statement.

Completing the plant will validate the company’s manufacturing capabilities and may let it access the loan guarantee, Laureen Sanderson, an external spokeswoman, said in an e-mail today. The company won approval in 2011 to borrow as much as $150 million with backing from the Energy Department, subject to certain conditions that it has yet to meet.

1366 uses technology developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The “direct wafer” technique lets it produce silicon wafers for solar cells in a single step, rather than the conventional process of growing crystal ingots that are sliced into wafers. That reduces waste, improves efficiency and may cut production costs in half, the company said.

1366 expects to use the loan guarantee to expand annual production to as much as 1,000 megawatts. With the new funding, the company has raised $62 million from venture capital investors including VantagePoint Capital Partners and Energy Technology Ventures.

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