The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week a new package of $231m to support the development of solar wafer technology, offshore wind, and geothermal energy. The largest initiative was for a $150m loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies – they’ve been developing a process that uses molten silicon to dramatically reduce the cost and the time it takes to produce multicrystalline solar wafers. Using the loan guarantee, 1366 Technologies should be able to start producing 700MW to 1,000MW of silicon based solar wafers using their Direct Wafer molten silicon manufacturing process, which cuts the manufacturing time for each wafer from 3 days to 25 seconds and requires 90 percent less energy. The new $150m loan guarantee comes after earlier grants of $3m in funding from the DoE, and $4m from DARPA.
The other projects include $43m that goes to 41 different wind energy projects focusing on offshore wind energy systems, and $38m for 32 geothermal projects.