With the aim of making it cheaper and easier to expand the use of solar power, the US Department of Energy would provide $20 million to several projects that seek to create a hybrid concentrating-solar and fossil-fuel po

"These hybrid systems leverage the infrastructure of fossil fuel plants such as turbine and transmission systems, helping to reduce the cost of solar-generated electricity and bring CSP plants online quicker," DOE said in announcing the funding. "Today, between 11 GW and 21 GW of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the United States."

The funding will go to two to four projects, and the partners must provide 75% of the project cost, DOE said.

Concentrating solar power works in at least two ways: by concentrating sunlight through lenses onto photovoltaic cells, which converts light directly into electricity, or by using reflective troughs to heat tubes containing liquid salts, which in turn heats water to create steam to drive a turbine to produce electricity.