The advanced manufacturing plant that could have been in Genesee County with a little more political support will open soon in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
Bedford, Mass.-based 1366 Technologies has been building a plant with the support of one of the companies that have invested in the startup, Hanwha Q CELLS, and announced this week the plant will open soon.
Until this week, 1366 had been unwilling to release the location of its new factory.
It will be the world's first direct wafer factory. The direct wafer process was invented at MIT and patented by 1366. It makes solar wafers much like glass is made, with silicon being poured on a flat surface. The company has claimed the process is more energy efficient and produces less waste.
In 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Batavia to announce 1366 as the first tech company to agree to open a plant in STAMP, the advanced manufacturing project in Alabama, that would bring 1,000 mostly high-paying jobs to Genesee County.
The plan was for 1366 to invest $700 million in the plant. GCEDC and Empire State Development and other state agencies would provide $53 million in tax abatements and grants, based on certain incentives being met over 10 years.
The Department of Energy, in 2009, also promised 1366 a $150 million loan guarantee based on 1366 meeting two criteria: selecting a site for their factory and raising $100 million in private investment.
That deal fell apart on claims by Department of Energy officials that 1366 failed to select a site for its factory and had failed to raise the $100 million.
The company had raised $80 million in private equity but the DOE would not renegotiate the terms of the loan.
Rep. Chris Collins, based on a conversation with a member of his staff, was not hugely supportive of his staff and it's not clear he did much to help the process along. After 1366 announced plans to pull out of the STAMP deal, Collins questioned the company's credibility. He said at the time that 1366's announcement was evidence that the company was never serious about building a plant in Genesee County.
Based on the expectation that 1366 was coming to STAMP, with the help of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, the state released $33 million for development of shovel-ready infrastructure at the Alabama location.
Since 1366 pulled out of the deal nearly a year ago, GCEDC Steve Hyde has said on multiple occasions that GCEDC is talking with several prospective tenants for STAMP but so far no new deals have been announced.
As of May 1366 and the DOE were locked in a dispute over ownership of patents because of the assistance the DOE had given to 1366 early in the process of developing its technology. The Batavian is not aware of any change in the status of that dispute.
UPDATE 4:16 p.m.: In this story, and previously, we reported that 1366 withdrew from plans to build in STAMP in March. Shortly after this story published we received documents, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, from the Department of Energy, that revealed that STAMP informed DOE of its request to withdraw its loan application on Jan. 31, 2018. There was no other new information in the set of documents.
For all of The Batavian's previous coverage of 1366, click here.
Top photo: Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the October 2015 announcement at GCC of 1366's plans to build a plant at STAMP.
Photo released by 1366 of its nearly completed plant in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.