"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," says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
With that in mind, the lion's share of the investment, $21 million over five years, goes to back an effort by Fraunhofer USA's Center for Sustainable Energy Systems to develop 'plug-and-play' photovoltaic systems that can be purchased, installed and operational in one day.
The project, based at Fraunhofer USA's facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aims to make solar energy systems easier and less expensive for homeowners.
In a complementary effort, a project at North Carolina State University will work on standard photovoltaic components and systems that can adapt to any residential roof and be installed and connected to the grid quickly and easily.
The remaining $8 million will be split between two projects aiming to help utilities and grid operators predict when, where and how much solar power will be produced at any given time by US solar energy plants.