Solar manufacturing company 1366 Technologies announced it has raised $20 million in a second round of financing.

The company makes a technology for producing crystalline silicon wafers that can make drastically cheaper solar modules than have been possible before. The company’s Direct Wafer process can reduce the cost of manufacturing silicon wafers (which are used to make solar modules) by 80 percent, Greentech Media writes — and wafers are a significant cost of making a solar module.

This new funding will allow 1366 Technologies to go into production “well in advance of its original plan,” the company says. It says traditional silicon wafer manufacturing involves a lengthy and multi-step process of ingot casting, blocking, squaring and sawing that wastes up to 50 percent of silicon.

Its technology was originally developed at MIT, and the company was awarded a $4 million grant from ARPA-E last year.

In this financing round, 1366 signed new investors Hanwha Chemical of Korea  — which plans to be a customer — and Ventizz Capital Fund of Germany. Returning investors include North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

“During the past two years, we have kept our cash position strong and focused on solving the key manufacturing challenges in silicon photovoltaics,” said CEO Frank van Mierlo in a company statement. “We’ve managed expectations and steadily built our credibility. Now, with this investment, we’re moving towards manufacturing. Our goal is to bring our transformative Direct Wafer technology into production and deliver the manufacturing innovations that will make solar electricity cheaper than coal.”

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