Solar energy giant Applied Materials has opened its US$250 million research and demonstration facility in Xi’an, Reuters reported. The Applied Materials Solar Technology Center, which broke ground in 2006, is the largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world, covering more than 400,000 square feet. Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of the company, said: "This opening represents a critical breakthrough for the photovoltaic industry and China." Splinter said that the center represented the "industrialization of the global solar industry." The company’s chief technology officer, Mark Pinto, added that research conducted at the center could drive down the cost of solar power worldwide.