The center, located in Xi’an, China, is the largest non-governmental solar energy research facility in the world. The 400,000 square foot complex is comprised of laboratory and office buildings as well as an entire Applied SunFab thin film manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process.
“We believe this technology center will provide important contributions to driving down the cost of solar around the world. This opening represents a critical breakthrough for the photovoltaic industry and China and a tremendous benefit to our customers,” said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of Applied Materials. “Establishing this 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 Materials celebrated its 25th anniversary in China in 2009. It has more than 800 employees and 13 offices in the country, including approximately 300 employees in Xi’an. Applied first broke ground for the facility in 2006 and its total investment in the multi-phase project is more than US$250 million.
The facility includes a solar technology center for research and development (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. The center has the largest solar array in Xi’an, a 56 kW array atop a parking lot structure.
Located in northwest China, Xi’an is a growing center of energy technology excellence. The local province boasts more than 40 colleges and universities, and Xi’an is recognized as one of the leading high-technology research areas in the country. Applied Materials has worked closely with local governments, contributed to research and awarded 166 university scholarships since 2005 through an R&D fund with the Xi’an Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Xi’an High Tech Park.
“As China works to build its renewable power infrastructure we are pleased to offer such a unique facility. In the laboratories, local suppliers of systems and materials will be able to work closely with our engineers to reduce development costs, accelerate the industrialization of clean energy technology and contribute to decreasing the cost of solar,” said Charlie Gay, president of Applied Solar. “This is a powerful benefit we are bringing to our customers and to China, and we look forward to immediately putting these capabilities to work.”
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