Updated: Hanwha Q CELLS is collaborating with US-based ‘Direct Wafer’ supplier, 1366 Technologies to commercialise the multicrystalline-type wafers.
Upon the technology development agreement being successfully completed 1366 Technologies could become a major wafer supplier to Hanwha Q CELLS.
“Our mission at Hanwha Q CELLS is to be at the forefront of photovoltaic technology and to rapidly translate innovation into mass production,” said Seong-woo Nam, CEO, Hanwha Q CELLS. “1366's Direct Wafer(TM) Technology is innovation at its best. We strongly believe in its potential to be commercialized in order to deliver significant cost reductions and quality improvements at the same time. ”
“It is a powerful endorsement of our technology that Hanwha Q CELLS has recognized the high potential of our technology to advance cell performance and drive down the cost of photovoltaics,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “Hanwha Q CELLS is recognized globally for its commitment to innovation and quality, setting many technical standards for the industry. We couldn't be more proud to combine our resources with a company that's long stood at the center of the global solar revolution. It's an ideal fit.”
Talking to PV Tech, Frank van Mierlo noted that due to merger of the sister Hanwha companies, Hanwha Q CELLS had become the single largest purchaser of multicrystalline wafers having primarily sourced wafers from dedicated wafer producers and had limited in-house capability.
“A key driver for Hanwha Q CELLS is our Direct Wafer technology’s ability to offer 10 cents per-watt cost reduction over conventional multi-wafers,” said van Mierlo. “Truly new wafer production methods don’t come around very often.”
According to van Mierlo collaborating with Hanwha Q CELLS enables the company to de-risk to a certain extent the next major step in the company’s move to high-volume production as the company is able to systematically increase production on its new Gen III furnaces, debugging and optimising while securing customer demand.
1366 Technologies has been ultra-conservative until now in its ramp of Direct Wafer technology, driven by cost issues over moving from lab-based tools to high-volume low cost production tools without the support of a major customer.
“Another reason for Q CELLS interest in our technology is its ability to provide an energy payback of the module below one year,” added van Meirlo.
Bruce Sohn joins 1366 Board
1366 has also announced that it has formed a Scientific Advisory Board to be led by co-founder Dr. Emanuel “Ely” Sachs, who is transitioning away from his role as Chief Technology Officer.
Former First Solar President Bruce Sohn has also been recruited to its Board of Directors and appointed photovoltaics veteran Dr. Rob Steeman as its Director of Cell Technology.
“The 1366 team is at an important juncture and rapidly moving toward commercial production. We now have a manufacturing hub, consisting of fully-automated Direct Wafer machines, up and running,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “These additions to the team, and the new roles created, will undoubtedly help us deliver against the promise made possible by Ely’s vision – a uniformly better multi-crystalline wafer at one-half the cost.”
The company is preparing to build out its 250MW manufacturing facility.