1366 Technologies plans to hire 150 for new manufacturing plant
Bedford-based solar technology company 1366 Technologies said Thursday that it raised $22.5 million in Series C funding and will more than triple its workforce over the next year as it explores a potential IPO.
The round was led by the China-based venture capital firm Haiyin Capital and will be used for the construction of 1366’s 130,000-square-foot 250 megawatt manufacturing facility, which will produce silicon wafers — the building blocks of solar cells (and ultimately panels). The facility, which is backed in part by a $150 million U.S. Department of Energy commitment, will initially produce 60 million standard silicon wafers per year – enough to power more than 30,000 American homes.
“A couple decades ago it [solar] was way too expensive,” CEO Frank van Mierlo said in an interview. “Today, it’s already cheaper than nuclear and cheaper than any oil that you would use for general electricity, and it’s on its way to being cheaper than coal.”
Van Mierlo said in an interview the company would hire 150 employees over the next year to work at the new facility — adding to the company’s current workforce of 60 (59 of the employees are in Bedford with one in Shanghai). The jobs would include engineering and management jobs. Van Mierlo said the company did not have a location for the facility just yet, but the hope is to build it somewhere in the U.S. and begin hiring once construction begins.
Founded in 2008, 1366 says it has developed a new process for manufacturing solar wafers that wastes less silicon and energy, costing as much as 70 percent less than conventional processes. The company’s “direct wafer” technology was invented by 1366 co-founder and CTO Ely Sachs, formerly a longtime professor at MIT.