At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), we focus on creative answers to today's energy challenges. From fundamental science and energy analysis to validating new products for the commercial market, NREL researchers are dedicated to transforming the way the world uses energy.
With more than 35 years of successful innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy, today our discoveries provide sustainable alternatives for powering our homes, businesses, and our transportation system.
NREL's 327-acre campus in Golden, Colorado, houses many research laboratories and the lab's administrative office. With a commitment to sustainable operations, the main campus boasts several LEED-platinum rated buildings, along with multiple on-site renewable energy installations.
Located about 5 miles south of Boulder, the National Wind Technology Center offers specialized facilities and provides technical support critical to the development of wind energy. The center provides the wind industry with every aspect of technical support needed to develop new wind turbine designs. Wind researchers with experience in fluid dynamics and structural testing are now helping the nation advance new power technologies using the energy in flowing water.
The 185,000 square-foot Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) is the only facility that can conduct integrated megawatt-scale testing of the components and strategies needed to reliably move significant amounts of clean energy onto the electrical grid. The ESIF includes fifteen laboratories with unique capabilities where organizations can partner with NREL on energy system integration projects. Explore the ESIF's interactive illustration to learn more.
Completed in 2010, NREL's ultra-high-efficiency Research Support Facility (RSF) is a model for new office building construction and a living laboratory for sustainability. The RSF was awarded LEED Platinum status by the U.S. Green Buildings Council for its energy performance and widespread use of recycled and repurposed materials. Energy efficient attributes include daylighting, natural ventilation, next-generation data center, and a rooftop photovoltaic system. Learn more about the RSF.
Technicians work on a 3-megawatt Alstom wind turbine and a 1.5-megawatt GE wind turbine at the National Wind Technology Center, the nation's premier wind energy technology research facility. The center's field test sites experience robust and diverse winds and provide an ideal environment for testing wind turbines. In addition to field test sites, the center boasts facilities for dynamometer testing, structural testing, and a controllable grid interface.
Photovoltaic (PV) and basic energy sciences are conducted in the Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF). Laboratories are used to develop semiconductor material for high-efficiency crystalline solar cells, fabricate prototype solar cells and analyze the semiconductor material used to make solar cells, research hydrogen generation and storage, and measure and characterize solar cell and module performance. Learn more about the SERF.
NREL researchers conduct advanced solar cell, thin film, and nanostructure research in the Science and Technology Facility (S&TF). The S&TF was the first LEED Platinum building in the federal system and was completed in 2006. The S&TF houses the Process Development and Integration Laboratory and nine advanced material synthesis, characterization, and general support laboratories.
The Field Test Laboratory Building (FTLB) is the original research building on NREL's campus. Its lab supports many programs, but it is primarily devoted to biomass research. The researchers in the FTLB also study waste management, materials recycling, and enzymology (microbial and enzyme studies) needed to make alternative biomass fuels cost-competitive. The center of the building is a greenhouse for growing feedstocks, including algae.
The Outdoor Test Facility (OTF) test beds are used to track the performance and reliability of photovoltaic (PV) cells, modules, and small systems. The OTF is like a test track for PV design. Inside the OTF, NREL researchers use simulation chambers to test PV technologies under intensified and simulated weather conditions. Using this equipment, the performance and durability of PV products over 20 years can be predicted in a matter of weeks. Learn more about the OTF.
The Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility (IBRF) is a pilot-scale laboratory that can process up to two dry tons of biomass per day into biofuels. The IBRF also includes small-scale fermentation and compositional analysis laboratories. The compositional analysis lab allows researchers to quantify (and verify) sugars available from various species of plants used in the biomass industry. Learn more.
Research engineers at the National Wind Technology Center review data in the Distributed Energy Resources Test Facility, a working laboratory that can simulate a real-world distributed electrical system complete with generators, storage devices, and grid interconnection. The facility allows the flexibility of interconnecting various renewable energy sources and testing new design concepts.