BOSTON (AP) – The U.S. Department of Energy has offered a conditional $150 million loan guarantee to a Massachusetts company that’s developing a dramatically cheaper way to produce the silicon wafers that are key components on solar panels.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the decision about Lexington-based 1366 Technologies on Friday.

He said the company’s project could cut manufacturing costs of the silicon wafers by half, which could significantly reduce the cost of solar power.

1366 Technologies aims to develop the thin wafers by freezing them from a pool of molten silicon. The company says it’s far cheaper than the current process of sawing the wafers from silicon chunks.

Craig Lund, vice president of business development for the company, said news of the loan guarantee was “huge” and will enable the company to expand far more quickly.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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