Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies announced Tuesday it is partnering with Hanwha Q Cells on a factory in Malaysia, which will be the first factory to produce 1366’s proprietary solar wafers.
The wafer manufacturer originally planned to open a plant in the U.S., after receiving $17 million in grants from the Department of Energy to develop its technology and a $150 million loan guarantee “To build innovative, new manufacturing facilities.” That loan guarantee ultimately went unused.
Though federal investments helped foster the commercialization of 1366’s technology and the company had hoped to open its first factory in the U.S., head of communications Laureen Sanderson said working with a partner was the fastest path to a production facility.
“We are still looking for ways to make a U.S. factory happen.”
“The ultimate goal is to make that path to a U.S. factory even clearer,” said Sanderson, who added that an exclusion is “Smart policy in terms of supporting U.S. innovation and U.S. born technology.”
Brandon Hurlbut, a co-founder at business advisory group Boundary Stone Partners, said 1366’s move in Malaysia is a sign that the U.S. is losing out on opportunities to foster and capitalize on important technologies.
1366’s partner, Hanwha Q Cells is working on a U.S. plant in Georgia.