The US Energy Department is investing $60 million to support research and development in solar energy, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. Moniz announced the investment as part of the so-called SunShot initiative, which aims to spur American innovations to reduce the cost of solar energy. The secretary said similar investments have helped cut the cost of solar energy systems by more than 70 percent during the past three years. \"The tremendous growth in the U.S. solar industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water and provides affordable clean energy to more and more Americans,\" Moniz said in a statement Tuesday. The funding targets projects ranging from online tools to examine the potential of solar panels on rooftops to those aimed at making the installation of solar power systems easier. U.S. President Barack Obama, in his 2011 State of the Union address, laid out a clean-energy target of meeting 80 percent of U.S. energy needs with clean sources by 2035. Critics of Obama\'s \"all-of-the-above\" energy strategy point to the bankruptcy of some federally backed solar companies as a reason for concern.