June 17, 2011 / 6:11 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. offers $150 million loan aid for solar wafers

A home under construction July 19, 2008 in Temecula, California, uses new solar technology developed by SunPower Corp that allows thinner solar wafers to be designed into the shingles. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department offered on Friday a $150 million conditional loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies Inc to support development of the company’s solar wafer technology.

The company’s technology could lower the cost of manufacturing solar wafers by about 50 percent, the DOE said in a statement.

Solar wafers are used to make the cells that transform sunlight into electricity in panels.

1366 Technologies’ first facility will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts, and will create 70 permanent jobs, the department said. Other site locations are being evaluated for another phase of the project.

Overall the DOE funding will help the company produce about 700 to 1,000 megawatts of wafers annually.

The company’s technology was originally developed with the help of a $4 million grant from the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy program and a $3 million grant from DOE’s solar technology program.

1366 is based in North Lexington, Massachusetts. Its investors include General Electric Co, Energy Financial Services, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Hanwha Chemical Corp, Ventizz Capital Fund, North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles and Ayesha Rascoe in Washington

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