Dealflow | June 15, 2023

Buoyed by IRA funding, CubicPV raises $103 million to kickstart US production of solar wafers

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, June 15 – The US Inflation Reduction Act showers incentives on domestic makers of solar, wind and battery components in an effort to establish a secure supply for critical future industries today dominated by China. “America currently has no domestic solar ingot, wafer, or cell manufacturing capacity and only modest capacity to produce solar modules, inverters and trackers,” was the sober assessment by the Solar Energy Industry Association last year.

Bedford, Mass.-based CubicPV is looking to restart US production of solar wafers, the building block of photovoltaic solar cells, which are in turn assembled into solar panels. The company plans to open a 10-gigawatt wafer plant at a yet to be named location, which it calls “a direct result of the long-term industrial policy contained within the Inflation Reduction Act.”

The funding from Thailand’s SCG Cleanergy, Dallas-based Hunt Energy Enterprises and Breakthrough Energy Ventures will help finance the plant as well as development of next generation tandem wafer technology. “Cubic is ideally positioned to play a key role in the world’s embrace of solar powered electricity generation,” said SCG’s Tim McCaffery

Cost curves

The IRA’s Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit will make 100% US-made solar modules 30% less expensive than imported modules, according to a new analysis funded by the BlueGreen Alliance. And that’s before bonus incentives for paying prevailing wages and using apprenticeships (a 5x bump), and serving low-income communities. (CTCV has a good cheat sheet on the IRA’s tax incentives).

CubicPV’s plant will initially make standard silicon-based wafers using a streamlined “direct wafer” production process. The company is also developing so-called tandem modules that stack low-cost perovskite solar cells on top of silicon cells, a design CubicPV says will boost efficiency by 30%, further bringing down costs.

A first tranche of $33 million will be available immediately to CubicPV, which was formed in 2021 by the merger of 1366 Technologies and Hunt Perovskite Technologies. The rest of the funding will be released upon meeting certain milestones, the company said.