NEWARK, Del. – General Electric plans to step up its solar energy research program, and North Carolina State University could be one of the beneficiaries.

NCSU has an extensive solar research program, and it its one of GE’s development and research partners.

Georgia Tech is also part of the GE research effort.

On Monday, GE disclosed that it had received a $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for solar research. The grant could reach $18.6 million over three years if goals set for the program are reached.

“The GE-led team’s commercialization strategy focuses on residential and commercial buildings that currently consume more than 60 percent of the electricity generated in the United States,” GE said in a statement.

In addition to NCSU, the GE alliance includes Renewable Energy Corporation (REC ASA), Solaicx, Xantrex Technology Inc., the University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.