US solar manufacturer 1366 Technologies has opened its new 25MW wafer manufacturing plant in Bedford, Massachusetts.

The facility is expected to employ 100 people in the commercial production of the company’s Direct Wafer technology.

The company claims the technology represents a “transformative manufacturing process” that produces wafers at half the normal cost.

Over the next 18 months the company hopes it will boost production of the wafer from the thousands to the millions.

The plant is the first of two planned by the company. Last year 1366 Technologies secured a US$150 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to build a 1,000MW facility employing 300 workers.

Customer trials were said to have demonstrated solar cell conversion efficiencies of 17%.