A Boston-based company that has picked Genesee County for the location of its silicon wafer plant announced a major strategic move today that officials say will provide a tremendous positive impact on cash flow.
Wacker Chemie, a supplier of highly purified silicon, is making a $15 million equity investment in 1366 Technologies through the supply of the silicon that will be used by 1366 to manufacture its advanced silicon wafers.
The silicon wafers will be manufactured in a plant at the Science, Technology & Advanced Maufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama through a process that officials with 1366 say will greatly reduce the cost of solar power.
The partnership will also include a technical collaboration between the two companies. Wacker Chemie will provide expertise in silicon as well as facility design, engineering and construction.
“We see the potential for the Direct Wafer technology to provide an excellent contribution to accelerate global solar adoption," said Ewald Schindlbeck, president, Wacker Polysilicon. "1366 has developed a commercially valid answer to a longtime manufacturing challenge. We’re eager to add our high-quality products and bring our expertise to the effort.”
Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366, said the partnership is a good sign for the future adoption of his company's groundbreaking solar wafer solution.
“Commercial traction is gained when technical success and financial support are established within the industry," van Mierlo said. "This partnership with the world’s most technically advanced silicon provider clearly demonstrates market acceptance for the Direct Wafer technology. Wacker’s silicon is the best in the industry and has been a crucial competitive edge for Wacker’s customers. It will do the same for 1366."
The manufacturing solution developed by 1366 offers a significant advantage over traditional ingot-based production technologies, according to company officials. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multistep, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.