XI’AN, CHINA: Applied Materials Inc. today opened an advanced solar research and demonstration facility in Xi’an, China.
Applied Materials’ Solar Technology Center, the largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world, is comprised of laboratory and office buildings covering more than 400,000 square feet and contains an entire Applied SunFab thin film manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process. These lines are configured to closely simulate customer fabrication (fab) environments.
“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 is celebrating its 25th anniversary in China this year and today has more than 800 employees and 13 offices in the country, with approximately 300 employees in Xi’an. Applied first broke ground in Xi’an in 2006 and the total investment in the multi-phase project is more than $250 million dollars.
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. The center has the largest solar array in Xi’an, a 56 kW array on a parking lot structure.
“We believe this technology center will provide important contributions to driving down the cost of solar around the world,” stated Mark Pinto, senior vice president, general manager, Energy and Environmental Solutions and Applied’s chief technology officer.
“In addition to housing Applied’s state-of-the-art research into solar manufacturing techniques, customers and potential customers from around the world will be able to work side-by-side with our technologists to reduce their time to market and improve factory productivity and cell efficiency.”
Xi’an is located in the Shaanxi province in northwest China and is a growing center of energy technology excellence in China. 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 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, 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.”