As part of a federal effort dubbed the SunShot Initiative, the Energy Department said it was investing in plug-and-play technology and solar forecasting to help advance the solar energy sector in the United States.
"The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically in recent years but we also need to reduce the cost and time required to actually install them in homes and businesses, and help utility companies better integrate renewable energy into the grid." Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.
The plug-and-play investment targets programs that could help operators purchase, install and operate photovoltaic systems in one day. Forecasting investments would help utility and grid operators determine "when, where and how much solar power will be produced at U.S. solar energy plants," the department said.
Efforts to advance solar power in the United States are controversial. Leaders in the House of Representatives have taken issue with a $535 million federal loan guarantee offered to solar panel company Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010.