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Will 1366 Technologies succeed in disrupting the multi-billion dollar Solar Wafer Industry

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1366 Technologies to ramp up Wafer Manufacturing

Crystalline silicon technology has taken over the solar industry decimating other technologies such as CIGs, a-Si, solar thermal technology etc. Other technologies have become niche ones with a limited market and a limited number of players. Crsytalline silicon technology has also seen its supply chain get standardized with polysilicon manufacturing, followed by ingots, wafers, cell and finally panel production. 10 years ago, there was a vast variation in technology and process between the major solar companies. However, most of the Top 10 solar companies have become similar in terms of technology, processes, material and costs. The equipment suppliers to these companies have also reduced, as the industry has matured.

However, a new startup called 1366 Technologies threatens to upend the existing supply chain and instigated disruption in the industry. While the company has been around for a while, it is only now that it is raising funds for serious commercialization of its technology. 1366 has raised over $10 million in investment from solar giant Hanwha Solar. The money will go towards providing exclusivity to Hanwha for a certain number of years, besides going towards prepayments towards solar wafer supply.

Note, the mainstream process of producing wafers is by casting polysilicon into large ingots and then using wire saws to slice the ingots into wafers. This leads to a long two-step process while causing wastage, because silicon is wasted as kerf material. While costs have come down for wafer manufacturing due to process improvements such as larger ingot sizes, recycling etc., 1366 proposes a dynamically different technology. It proposes to directly transform polysilicon into wafers, without going through motions of ingots and slicing. This will reduce the production time and costs. Hanwha will also check 1366 by testing the wafers and using the normal cell production processes, to see if 1366 wafers can easily be converted into high efficiency solar cells.

If 1366 succeeds, then the wafer companies such as GCL Poly, Green Energy Technology, Comtec, Renesola etc will lose the most. Large integrated solar companies such as Jinko Solar, Trina Solar will also lose out, as their wafer operations become obsolete and they would have to write off those segments. While I do not see an immediate impact, as 1366 will take a long time to ramp up to the world’s demand for almost 60,000 MW of wafers, it will certainly impact the normal solar wafer companies as they see reducing demand.


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

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