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NREL's Kurtz, Tegen Honored for Clean Energy Leadership

July 22, 2016

Photo shows Sarah Kurtz.

Sarah Kurtz

The U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) program has honored Sarah Kurtz and Suzanne Tegen of the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for their leadership and achievement in the field of renewable energy.

The C3E program, led by the Energy Department in collaboration with the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the MIT Energy Initiative, presented the C3E Awards at the fifth annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium at Stanford University on May 31. The C3E Awards recognize women for outstanding leadership and achievement in driving clean energy progress in various sectors, supporting career advancement and inspiring women of all ages to contribute to the clean energy field.

A research fellow with the National Center for Photovoltaics and a principal scientist at NREL, Kurtz received the Lifetime Achievement award for her continuing contributions to knowledge about photovoltaics. C3E presents one Lifetime Achievement award each year.

Kurtz, who helped launch super-efficient multi-junction solar cells and is a leader in photovoltaic (PV) systems reliability, joined NREL in 1985 as a post-doctoral researcher after receiving her Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard University. Her work helped illuminate how to grow high-quality cells, how to measure multi-junction cells, and how their performance is affected under various spectra. More recently, she has looked at reliability issues of integrating multi-junction cells and solar PV in general into larger systems as manager for the PV Module Reliability Test and Evaluation Group. Kurtz previously was awarded the prestigious Cherry Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and shared the Dan David Prize in 2007.

"I am very honored to have been chosen for this C3E Award," Kurtz said. "We live in an exciting time - when the world is moving to adopt renewable energy. It has been a real privilege to work with many passionate people at NREL and around the world toward the goal of a world powered by clean energy. I wish I could list the hundreds of people; it's with their support that I have been able to receive this honor."

Tegen Recipient of C3E's Government Award

Tegen, who joined NREL in 2002, manages the laboratory's Wind and Water Deployment section. Before earning her Ph.D. in energy policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she worked for the Center for Resource Solutions and the U.S. Antarctic Program at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole and McMurdo stations. She also spent a year as an NREL liaison to the Energy Department's Wind Program in Washington, D.C. Tegen has completed in-depth analyses into the economic impacts of generating energy via wind and water projects. She also co-authored the first-ever published report into the employment makeup of the U.S. wind industry and emphasized the need for colleges and universities to increase the number of number of wind energy training programs to ensure a workforce for the future. Tegen also is a founding board member of Women of Wind Energy.

"I'm very grateful to receive this recognition while working for a healthier, more sustainable world," Tegen said.  "Thanks to C3E for supporting and celebrating diversity in the clean energy workforce, and I'm proud to share this recognition with the other honorees."

Tegen and seven other mid-career women were selected from a nationwide pool of nominations and chosen by the U.S. C3E Ambassadors, distinguished energy experts who serve as role models and advocates for women in clean energy.

The U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) program works to advance the careers and leadership of professional women in the field of clean energy. The program is part of the international C3E initiative within the 24-government Clean Energy Ministerial framework.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.