Applied Materials Inc has opened what it claims is the world's largest non-government solar energy research facility in Xian, China. Applied Materials' Solar Technology Center is an advanced solar research and demonstration facility which comprises laboratory and office buildings covering more than 400,000 ft2.
The facility contains an entire Applied SunFab thinfilm manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process. These lines are configured to closely simulate customer fabrication environments.
Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of Applied Materials, said the establishment of the research center in China is an integral part of Applied's global strategy and an important step toward the industrialization of the global solar industry.
Applied first broke ground in Xian in 2006 and the total investment in the multi-phase project is more than US$250 million. The completed facility includes a solar technology center for R&D, engineering, product demonstration, testing and training for crystalline silicon and thin film solar module manufacturing equipment and processes.
Employees in the center will work closely with local suppliers to test and qualify new materials and tools and evaluate potential new cost saving technologies. In addition, the center is claimed to have the largest solar array in Xian, a 56kW array on a parking lot structure.