Newark, Delaware [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] General Electric Company is accelerating its solar energy research program with the help of an $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of President Bush’s Solar America Initiative.U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner and other representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) visited GE Energy’s Newark, Delaware, solar manufacturing facility March 16 to discuss the future of solar energy in the U.S. Last week, the DOE announced funding for 13 solar technology development projects, including one to be led by GE, that would help decrease the cost of manufacturing and distributing solar electricity. The Solar America Initiative is part of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative. The funding is subject to award negotiation and appropriation from the U.S. Congress. According to the DOE, the funding for the first year of GE’s project is expected to be roughly $8,100,000, with approximately $18,600,000 available over three years if the GE-led team meets its goals. GE Energy will be heading an alliance of companies, universities and researchers that are collaborating to accelerate the large-scale commercialization of solar technology into products that are cost competitive with retail electricity rates without the need for government assistance. The alliance includes Renewable Energy Corporation (REC ASA), Solaicx, Xantrex Technology Inc., the University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “We believe that GE’s participation in the Solar America Initiative will play a significant role in helping the United States solar industry grow rapidly,” said Victor Abate, vice president, renewables for GE Energy.