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.

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