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1366 Technologies – Will More US Government Millions go Down the Drain aka Evergreen,Solyndra ?

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1366 Technologies has got a $150 million DOE Loan Guarantee as the startup looks to raise $300 million to fund its solar wafer producing factory.Note the company is using an innovative technology which it says will be game changer in reducing the costs for making solar wafers.Note Solar Wafer Companies in China have managed to raise scale and reduce costs substantially in recent years winning marketshare from European companies like REC and Solarworld.The smaller companies like PV Crystalox are in deep trouble because of their high cost of operations and are trading at a fractional of their book value.Its a tough environment for solar companies especially if they are starting out as established solar panel companies like Evergreen Solar are facing potential bankruptcy.Evergreen Solar got millions of dollars in grants and loans from Massachusetts however the company has been forced to shut down its factory.Like 1366 Technologies Evergreen too uses a unique technology “String Ribbon” to producer solar wafers .However it has not been able to scale and reduce costs compared to the mainstream silicon solar wafer producers like LDK and GCL.

The US DOE Loan Guarantee has not been working too well with its poster boy Solyndra looks int deep trouble despite a $535 million loan guarantee .The company to me looks like it will go bankrupt or a marginal player at best as the second wave of thin film solar bankruptcies start with the massive reduction in crystalline solar panel prices.Most of the solar startups don’t have enough money and time to scale their operations as solar panel ASPs are falling at a steep rate.1366 Technologies will have to pull off a rabbit from the hat in terms of  execution if they want to survive a brutal solar market in which a solar leader like Sharp is being forced to abadon its high cost factories in Japan.

1366 Technologies Technology

Direct Wafer Technology

1366 Technology is marketing its kerfless solar wafers which they claim uses only 10% of the electricity required by normal solar wafers and reduces wastes and costs.1366’s Direct Wafer technology forms a standard, 156mm multi-crystalline wafer directly from molten silicon instead of the normal growing of ingots and then slicing them into wafers using wire saws.

Self Aligned Technology

1366 is also claiming that their wafers are superior resulting in more efficient solar cells being produced as the result of texturization which creates a geometrically optimized cell surface for better light capture and trapping.

Here are some of my earlier writings on how DOE Loan Guarantees don’t make sense for companies like Abound Solar,Solyndra,Abengoa and others.

Loan Guarantee of $1.85 Billion to Abengoa and Abound Solar seems to be a Misuse of US Taxpayer Money

Abound Solar which is a CdTe startup has also received a massive loan guarantee like Solyndra earlier.This money is going to be used to set up manufacturing facilities in Indiana and Colorado.Abound Solar has been heavily supported the the US government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is in the process of starting a 200 MW plant in Colorado.While this subsidy seems to make more sense than the  Abengoa power plant,one needs to question whether Abound is capable of surviving the tough times Thin Film Technology is going through.When established companies like Applied Materials are being forced to abandon their Thin Film plans,it is highly uncertain whether a startup will survive.$400 million seems a massively risky bet unless it has got some secret sauce capable of beating stalwarts like First Solar at their own game.One needs to question why these startups and power plants are receiving huge sums of money when established US solar companies with great technology like Evergreen Solar and Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) are struggling to survive

Solyndra Fab Shutdown a Slap in the Face of USA Discretionary Federal Green Aid

In my previous missive I had opined that the US Solar Energy Policies were misguided as President Obama visited a Solyndra Factory and the US Department of Energy gave a huge $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra without any substantial due diligence or competition.Note that established solar companies like Evergreen Solar are literally crying for government support without getting any.Now Evergreen Solar has planned to shutter US factories to open a solar plant in Wuhan,China with Chinese government support.Same thing is happening with other solar companies like Energy Conversion Devices,Sunpower and others.US Loan Guarantees to Abound Solar and Abengoa also seem to be a waste while massive US Treasury Grants and Aid are creating Solar Thermal White Elephants in California.Note the billions of  dollars in discretionary aid would be spent much better on R&D and subsidies to existing US solar companies which are losing out to Asian competition.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

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