U.S. funding lab, university solar studies

Jan. 31, 2013 at 6:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Energy Department announced plans to invest millions of dollars in research projects that could lower the cost of solar-generated power.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said about $9 million would be invested across seven projects at U.S. universities and national labs. The research would help both ends of the solar energy spectrum find ways to improve solar cell efficiency, reduce costs and make installation easier.

"Projects like these will help accelerate technological and financing innovations -- making it easier for American families and businesses to access clean, affordable energy," Chu said in a statement.

Research projects range from a Yale University project meant to increase the effectiveness of solar purchase programs at the community level to a University of Texas-Austin program examining data sets from state utility companies.

U.S. President Barack Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address laid out a clean-energy target of meeting 80 percent of U.S. energy needs with clean sources by 2035.

The so-called SunShot program by the U.S. government aims to spur American innovations to reduce the cost of solar energy. Critics of Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy point to the bankruptcy of federally backed solar companies as a reason for concern.

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