The US Department of Energy (DOE) is to provide US$53 million to fund 40 R&D projects aimed at slashing the cost of solar.

The funding was announced by energy secretary Ernest Moniz at Solar Power International in Las Vegas today.

The DOE hopes the funding will support the next generation of PV technologies and manufacturing processes as well as helping develop the soft costs of solar installation.

Among the beneficiaries of the funding, 10 research institutions will receive a share of US$14 million for R&D programmes aimed at improving the performance and efficiency of PV technologies.

Another US$14 million will be invested through the DOE’s Sunshot initiative in 20 projects exploring new ways to drive down the hardware and non-hardware soft costs of solar.

And a further US$24 million will be awarded to 10 US-based solar manufacturers to develop new technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiency in manufacturing processes. These will focus on reducing cost in raw materials, labour-intensive processes and capital expenses.

Moniz said: “As US solar installation increases and the cost of solar electricity continues to decline, solar energy is becoming an increasingly affordable clean energy option for more American families and businesses.

“Today, the US has 15.9GW of installed solar power – enough to power more than 3.2 million average American homes. The projects announced today will help the US solar energy industry continue to grow, ensuring America can capitalise on its vast renewable energy sources, cut carbon pollution, and continue to lead in the world in clean energy innovation.”