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U.S. wants to lead world in solar energy

U.S. wants to lead world in solar energy
U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Solyndra solar panel company with Solyndra executive vice president Ben Bierman (L) and Comapny CEO Chris Gronet (R) in Fremont, California on May 26, 2010. UPI/Paul Chinn/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A $50 million investment in solar energy during the next two years will establish the United States as a leader in clean energy, the energy secretary said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced investments in solar energy projects would fund domestic pilot-scale commercial production and high-volume manufacturing of solar energy technologies.

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The Energy Department said the United States had a dominant position in the solar energy sector in 1995, manufacturing 43 percent of the world's solar panels. That market share slipped to 7 percent last year, however.

Chu said new investments, included under a program dubbed SUNPATH, an acronym for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home, would move the United States to a leadership position in solar energy.

"In addition to invigorating clean energy manufacturing, this program will help achieve the SunShot goal of making unsubsidized utility-scale solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade," he said.

The so-called SunShot program by the U.S. government aims to spur American innovations to reduce the cost of solar energy.

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

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