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Success Stories

We'd like to share our stories about innovation, industry partnerships, and the path towards commercializing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies developed at NREL.

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NREL Teams with SoCalGas to Launch First Power-to-Gas Project in U.S.
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) has joined with NREL and the National Fuel Cell Research Center to launch demonstration projects to create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system that converts electricity into gaseous energy, and could provide North America with a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable sources.

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NREL and INL Demonstrate the Laboratory of the Future
This successful collaboration between NREL and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) demonstrated the capability to connect grid simulations in different locations for real time interaction via the internet. This new inter-lab capability enables the modeling of power grids in greater detail.

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NREL Partners with Abengoa Solar on Several Projects
NREL's projects in collaboration with Abengoa are developing more efficient solar technologies through molten salt thermal energy storage, as well as a new assembly method for solar thermal electric trough structures.

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NREL Working with U.S. Army on Consolidated Utility Base Energy System
Under a research agreement with Wyle Labs, NREL is working with the U.S. Army to complete development and testing of the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) System—a power distribution device that delivers power from solar, battery, and diesel generators to loads on forward operating bases.

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Asetek Liquid-cooling System Saves Energy at NREL
To measure the energy savings, performance, and reliability of a warm-water direct-to-chip liquid-cooling retrofit solution for data centers, an Asetek RackCDU liquid-cooling system was installed as a retrofit to an existing air-cooled system in NREL's high performance computing data center.

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NREL's Leadership in Clean Energy Solutions Center Helps Countries Meet Energy Goals
The Clean Energy Solutions Center, an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial that is operated by NREL with support from both the U.S. and Australian governments, helps countries throughout the world create policies and programs that advance clean energy technologies.

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Advanced Energy Tests Advanced PV Inverter Technology at ESIF
Solar inverter manufacturer Advanced Energy Industries is using NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) Power Systems Integration Laboratory to test its advanced photovoltaic (PV) inverter technology using the ESIF's power hardware-in-the-loop system and megawatt grid simulators.

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NREL and Solectria Develop PV Inverters with Advanced Features
NREL is partnering with solar inverter manufacturer Solectria to develop 500- and 750-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) inverters with advanced features that can support the electric grid. NREL's unique capabilities allow Solectria to test its inverter's controls and functionality at full power—and determine how its integration supports and impacts the grid under a variety of conditions.

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NREL Helps Utilities Develop Next Generation Plugin Hybrid Electric Trucks
NREL has teamed with Pacific Gas & Electric and Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated to evaluate the performance of a unique Class 5 plug-in hybrid electric bucket truck, which could power a neighborhood while repairs are being made by electric crews.

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Innovative Way to Test Batteries Fills a Market Niche
Isothermal Battery Calorimeters (IBCs), developed by NREL researchers, are capable of performing the precise thermal measurements needed to make safer, longer-lasting, and more cost-effective batteries for in a variety of applications.

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Algae Research Partnerships Impact Greenhouse Gas Production, Energy Security, and Job Creation
NREL's algae research has included collaborations with Cellana, Sapphire, and Algenol, as well as a partnership with Chevron Corp. to accelerate the commercialization of algal biofuels.

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Partnerships Drive New Transportation Solutions
NREL partners with industry to address some of the toughest energy efficiency challenges. The lab's work with individual companies—from startups to established corporations—includes full collaboration, technical assistance, deployment guidance, research facility use, and technology licensing.

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Partnerships Advance the Use of Clean Energy Technologies in the Marketplace
NREL works with hundreds of partners within industry, government, academia, small business, international organizations, and nonprofits to advance the use of clean energy technologies in the marketplace, including Toyota, California Energy Commission, and Verizon.

Photo of two people standing on a roof next to solar panels; one person is wearing an orange vest and the other is wearing a yellow vest and hard hat.

Portland, Oregon, Grassroots Solarize Campaign Drives Solar Prices Down 30%
Solarize Portland campaigns have revolutionized the market for solar, driving down prices by more than 30% and generating more than 50 permanent green jobs. NREL helped develop the Solarize Guidebook that initially served as a reference guide for the city of Portland.

Photo of a long line of solar panels in a tropical environment.

U.S. Virgin Islands Cut Diesel Use for Electricity and Water Production by 20%
NREL is working with the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Water and Power Authority, the Governor's Office, the Energy Office, and local stakeholders to identify the best combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to meet USVI's 60% fossil fuel reduction goal by 2025.

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Disaster Recovery Support at FEMA Incorporates Sustainability in Rebuilding Efforts
NREL, through funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has provided support in integrating sustainability into federal, state, and local recovery, reconstruction and redevelopment activities in areas of disaster recovery.

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Combined Energy Savings of $200,000 per Year Achieved in Greensburg, Kansas
After a devastating tornado struck Greensburg, Kan., NREL technical experts worked with city leaders, business owners, and residents to incorporate clean energy technologies into new buildings. Greensburg is now a model green community completely powered by a wind farm and surrounded by the highest per capita concentration of LEED-certified buildings in the U.S.

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NREL and GM Partner to Reduce Cost of Automotive Fuel Cells
NREL and General Motors (GM) are partnering on a multiyear, multimillion dollar joint effort to accelerate the reduction of automotive fuel cell stack costs through fuel cell material and manufacturing research and development.

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Increasing Electric Vehicle Efficiency through Enhanced Thermal Management
NREL experts have collaborated with automotive industry partners to investigate promising thermal management technologies and strategies with the goal of reducing the amount of energy needed for climate control.

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NREL Partners with Toyota on PEVs and Fuel Cell Hybrids
NREL is collaborating with Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing to study the potential grid impacts of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Through another agreement with Toyota, NREL has received four fuel cell hybrid vehicles to enhance the laboratory's research and development related to hydrogen fueling, infrastructure, and vehicle performance.

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NREL Helps Fleets Optimize Energy Efficiency
NREL analyzed on-road performance data from Frito-Lay electric delivery trucks to help the company determine routes and charging schedules that maximize electric vehicle fuel-saving potential. This 12-month evaluation was designed to enhance understanding of how to optimize the use of such vehicles in a large-scale commercial operation.

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NREL-led Team Improves and Accelerates Battery Design
NREL led some of the best minds from U.S. auto manufacturers, battery developers, and automotive simulation tool developers in a $20 million project to accelerate the development of battery packs and wider adoption of electric-drive vehicles.

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NREL Collaborative Improves Reliability of Wind Turbine Gearboxes
NREL initiated the Gearbox Reliability Collaborative, which brings together wind turbine manufacturers, owners, researchers, and consultants to develop improved processes for the design, testing, and operation of wind turbines to increase gearbox reliability.

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Natcore Technology Licenses NREL's Award-Winning Solar Cell Etching Process
Natcore Technology Inc. licensed NREL's "black silicon" technology and is incorporating it into its proprietary manufacturing process for solar cells. The black silicon nanocatalytic wet-chemical etch is an inexpensive, one-step process that allows solar cells to absorb more than 98% of incident sunlight.

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NREL and SkyFuel Partnership Reflects Bright Future for Solar Energy
For the next generation of parabolic troughs, NREL Principal Scientist Gary Jorgensen and SkyFuel Chief Technology Officer Randy Gee have developed a lower-cost, more durable solution to glass mirrors.

A group photo.

Partnerships to Reduce Enzyme Costs Increase Market Potential for Biofuels
To reduce the costs of the cellulase enzymes used to break down the cellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars, NREL partnered with two leading enzyme companies—Novozymes and Genencor—to engineer new cellulose enzymes that are more efficient.

What Our Partners Say

"The capabilities and credibility of NREL are unmatched in the technical work they provided. I have recommended them many times, and will continue to do so."
Lotus Applied Technology

"Grateful for the excellent support, collaborative problem solving, customer-focus, and overall commitment. NREL makes us all look good."
Federal Emergency Management Agency

"NREL has provided guidance to us under the Building America program and has been a partner with us on funded projects in California. Both of these relationships have helped us advance technically and build our credibility in the industry."
Davis Energy Group

"NREL provides a great deal of guidance and assistance to us. We use their suggestions to inform our decisions on a national level regarding energy-reduction projects, renewable energy projects, etc."
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

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NREL and Partners Successfully Demonstrate Advanced Microgrid System
NREL has partnered with Raytheon Company, Primus Power, and Advanced Energy to successfully demonstrate an advanced microgrid system that draws on batteries and solar photovoltaic energy for its power. The demonstration will lead to a pilot system to be installed at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, designed to power one building for at least 72 hours.

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NREL and CSIRO Develop Plug-and-Play Solar Microgrid Controller
NREL has joined forces with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop a plug-and-play technology that will result in newly connected solar generation being automatically "discovered" and configured by the main generation control system.

 Photo of equipment at a biofuel facility.

NREL Innovation Central to Success of Biofuels Projects
Through partnerships with companies such as DuPont, POET, and Abengoa, NREL played a crucial role in the development of three commercial-scale facilities that turn biomass into clean transportation fuels.

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Field Demonstrations for Navy Yield Valuable Results in Hawaii and Guam
A two-year project between NREL and the U.S. Navy's Naval Facilities Engineering Command to demonstrate energy efficiency technologies at bases in Hawaii and Guam resulted in the identification of promising options for reducing energy use and costs.

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NREL Collaborates with SolarCity and Hawaiian Electric Companies
NREL is collaborating with SolarCity at the Energy Systems Integration Facility to address the safety, reliability, and stability challenges of interconnecting high penetrations of distributed photovoltaics with the electric power system. The work includes collaboration with the Hawaiian Electric Companies to analyze high-penetration solar scenarios using advanced modeling and inverter testing. To learn more, watch a video about this partnership.

Photo of a power inverter; a gray electrical box with black cords running from it.

Google and IEEE Work with NREL on Little Box Challenge
The Little Box Challenge is an open competition challenging engineers to build smaller power inverters for use in photovoltaic power systems. Google would like to see the technology shrink to the size of a small laptop computer or smaller.

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NREL Working with Partners on Electrified Transportation Systems
A sustainable transportation future will rely on innovative systems connecting vehicles, utilities, renewable energy sources, and buildings. NREL is working with partners to develop electrified transportation systems that allow electric vehicles to interact with the power grid.

Photo of a military base with solar panels covering a parking area.

Net-Zero Energy and Energy Security Measures Replicated Across the Military
In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program, NREL partnered with Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to develop a plan to reach net-zero energy for the installation, supporting the U.S. Department of Defense's goal to obtain 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025.

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HP Supercomputer at NREL Garners Top Honor
A supercomputer created by Hewlett-Packard and NREL that uses warm water to cool its servers and then re-uses that water to heat its building has been honored as one of the top technological innovations of the year by R&D Magazine.

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Partners Leverage NREL's State-of-the-Art Facilities
Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Ford, and Xcel Energy are partnering with NREL to research and develop their energy technologies.

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Partnership Helps Fort Carson Meet Energy Goals
NREL is partnering with Fort Carson to support the post in meeting its net-zero energy, water, and waste by 2020 goal by conducting technology demonstrations and providing support for micro grid and buildings projects.

Aerial thermal photo of a neighborhood with houses.

Remote Shading Tool Has Potential to Reduce Solar Soft Costs by $0.17 per Watt
NREL, in partnership with Solar Census, and with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Incubator program, conducted onsite assessments at four residential homes to determine the accuracy of Solar Census' remote online shading tool.

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Fossil Fuel Dependency Falls from 100% to 56% on Alcatraz Island
With the help of NREL, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Park Service, solar photovoltaic panels are powering lights and appliances that were previously powered by either coal or diesel fuel ferried across the San Francisco Bay.

Photo of a house in Hawaii with solar panels on its roof.

Supporting Hawaii's First Net-Zero Energy Affordable Housing Community
NREL partnered with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Hawaiian Homelands Trust, and an architectural firm to design net-zero homes and the village's community center. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the project its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum designation.

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New DGIC Connects Utilities and Energy Industry Professionals on Interconnection Issues
NREL, with support from the Solar Electric Power Association, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Western Area Power Authority, has organized and is facilitating the Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative (DGIC)—a collaborative community of utilities and other stakeholders focused on innovative approaches to distributed generation interconnection.

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Crystal Solar and NREL Team Up to Cut Costs
A faster, cheaper way to manufacture silicon solar cells won a coveted R&D 100 award as one of the top technology innovations of 2013. Crystal Solar's approach to growing high-quality, high-efficiency silicon wafers at 100 times the usual throughput and half the cost could be a game-changer, creating American jobs and stemming the flow of solar cell manufacturing overseas.

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NREL Bolsters Batteries with Nanotubes
NREL's Energy Storage group is working with the U.S. Department of Energy, automotive battery developers, and car manufacturers to enhance the performance and durability of advanced lithium-ion batteries for a cleaner, more secure transportation future.

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NREL Staff Recognized for Top Innovations
NREL recently recognized the professionals behind the lab's greatest innovations during its annual Innovation and Technology Transfer Awards ceremony. The event also celebrated NREL's commercialization and partnering successes, recognizing the researchers and engineers who made it happen.

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Partnerships to Accelerate Hydrogen Station Technology
NREL and Sandia teams are working with public and private partners to develop a hydrogen station equipment performance device, hydrogen contaminant detector specifications, and reference station designs as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cell Technologies Office's Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology project.

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NREL and Partners Study Wind Farm Aerodynamics to Improve Siting
To gain new insights into wind turbine wakes, NREL partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to fund a comprehensive study.

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NREL Invention Speeds Solar Cell Quality Testing for Industry
Real-time quantum efficiency (QE) measurements—licensed and commercialized by Tau Science Corp.— use light-emitting diodes, high-speed electronics, and mathematical algorithms to measure the QE of solar cells up to 1,000 times faster than had been done before.

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NREL Patents Catalyst that Boosts Economics of Biofuels
NREL patented a catalyst that can reform tar in a gasification reactor—an important shortcut in making biomass suitable as a drop-in fuel—working with Colorado neighbor CoorsTek on the catalyst support.

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NREL and AOS Solar Collaborate on Breakthrough Optical Cavity Furnace
NREL and private-industry partner AOS Solar Inc. collaborated to build a manufacturing-size Optical Cavity Furnace capable of processing 1,200 wafers per hour, and shared an R&D 100 award for the innovation.

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Materials Exposure Testing Market Expands with Ultra-Accelerated Weathering System
The Ultra-Accelerated Weathering System will change the weathering industry. A partnership with Atlas, one of the leaders in materials exposure testing, will take NREL's technology to industry.

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Advanced Condenser Boosts Geothermal Power Plant Output
When power production at The Geysers geothermal power complex began to falter, NREL stepped in, developing advanced condensing technology that dramatically boosted production efficiency—and making a major contribution to the effective use of geothermal power.