Bill Gates-backed solar components manufacturer CubicPV (earlier 1366 Technologies) plans to invest $1.1 billion to set up 10 GW solar wafer and cells manufacturing capacity in India over the next five years.
The company is in talks with the Indian government to participate in the performance linked incentives (PLI) scheme for solar equipment manufacturers, Frank Van Mierlo, CEO of CubicPV, told FE. He said the company is planning to bring its innovative products in the solar equipment category, such as wafers and semiconductors, to India.
“While our exclusive wafer technology produces wafers directly from silicones, removing the cumbersome wasteful process of producing ingots and glass plates before the wafers are extracted. The semiconductor technology brought by our merged entity Hunt Perovskite uses two layers of semiconductors increasing the energy efficiency of panels,” Mierlo said.
The entire process from melting the silicone to wafer sheets takes less than 16 seconds, compared to two-and-a-half days in the conventional process. The company is now in process of reducing the time to seven seconds, Mierlo said.
CubicPV plans to start with 2 GW of cells and wafers capacity, and then expand it to 10 GW over five years at a cost of $1.1 billion, Mierlo said. The wafer manufacturer claims its exclusive technology will reduce the cost of manufacturing drastically. “At present, wafer and cell manufacturers end up wasting very high purity silicones priced at $25/kg during production. Our process doesn’t waste anything. If someone had to import 10,000 tonne of high purity silicone earlier, they will have to import just half of it,” Mierlo said.
“We plan a domestic company with an Indian management. Everything except the technology will be Indian … We believe all the measures by the government, such as the PLI scheme, the safeguard duty and customs duty will help nurture the sector, but it is my belief in the long term, the industry will become cost competitive with usage of innovative technologies such as direct wafer,” he said.
1366 Technologies merged with Hunt Perovskite on June 28 to form CubicPV. CubicPV is backed by Bill Gates with Mukesh Ambani-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), First Solar, and Hunt Energy Enterprises as the top three shareholders in the company.