National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Developing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
Mission: Develop renewable energy and energy efficiency technology and practices, advance related science and engineering, and transfer knowledge and innovations to address the nation’s energy and environmental goals.
Areas of Research: Renewable fuels; renewable electricity; energy science; energy systems integration; strategic energy analysis; commercialization and technology transfer; and technology deployment.
Location: Golden, Colorado
Owned By: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Managed By: Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC
(Battelle and MRIGlobal are the LLC member companies)
Black Silicon Photovoltaics: High-Efficiency Solar Cells
Discovery: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed a more efficient, cleaner, lower-cost, scalable “black” silicon process, which is up to 500X more light sensitive than standard silicon.
Development: Among the first technologies selected for NREL’s Privately Funded Technology Transfer program, Battelle and MRIGlobal invested in further development in return for a financial stake.
Deployment: 7Solar, a clean technology start-up company, was the first licensee.
Green LEDs: Low-Cost, High-Value Lighting
Discovery: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory researched a light-emitting diode (LED) that produced a deep green light, filling a crucial gap in the creation of white light LEDs, and a key technology for producing a new generation of efficient lighting.
Development: This innovation was added to NREL’s Privately Funded Technology Transfer program portfolio.
Deployment: In 2010, NREL received $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue developing the device. Over the next 20 years, the technology could save consumers $120 billion and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 250 megatons.
Finding Nature’s Best Biofuel Trees: Applying Drug Discovery Technology to Energy
Discovery: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory identified genes that are responsible for the most significant barrier to economical biofuels production: the challenge of converting biomass to fermentable sugars.
Development: Working with the University of California at Riverside, NREL developed a high-throughput platform to identify biomass with the best biofeedstock characteristics.
Deployment: NREL screened nearly 1,000 samples collected from poplar trees grown in the Pacific Northwest to demonstrate the new platform. The best strains will be developed and introduced into production.