Integrated Energy Pathways

Integrated energy pathways is one of three critical objectives central to achieving NREL's vision.

Skyline at night with movement on highway

A power sector free of carbon emissions in the near term will require tremendous advancement in:

  • Developing clean energy technologies
  • Integrating clean energy technologies into the grid
  • Electrifying transportation systems
  • Using smart building technologies
  • Maintaining system security and resilience against human and natural threats.

These advancements will involve millions of interconnected devices, multiple types of generation sources, more variable loads, and increased operational autonomy across all devices.

Integrated energy pathways focuses on modernizing our grid to support a high penetration of renewable energy, using storage and advanced technologies and controls, and expanding transportation electrification while maintaining grid reliability and security. Research, development, analysis, and deployment will enable and accelerate progress toward a carbon emissions-free power sector.

NREL is at the front of this critical research direction. With expanding capabilities to match the growing complexity of energy systems, NREL is bringing industry perspective into the laboratory to collaboratively develop the highest-value energy pathways for tomorrow's energy systems.

The Challenge

The energy landscape is shifting dramatically across domains. These research areas are shaping how we approach energy systems integration:

Autonomous energy systems

Electric vehicle grid integration

Energy security and resilience

Energy storage

Integrated devices and systems

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification

Transportation systems analysis and integration.

Energy sectors are trending toward new technologies, digital interfaces, and greater device complexity. The challenges of this transition must be met with advanced controls that match the high speed of modern assets and new methods that deliberately mix the strengths of each sector.

How We Get There

NREL has a comprehensive plan to get us from the grid of today to the grid of tomorrow and is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge to research, develop, and validate system-level solutions.

Generation, Storage, and Integration

  • Provide tools to optimize systems operations
  • Enable reliable uptake of new technologies into the power system
  • Optimize the integration of new technologies with existing systems

System Security and Resilience

  • Pioneer resilience science and methodologies
  • Fully integrate advanced cybersecurity methods and practices into power systems operations
  • Develop advanced visualization that accelerates technology adoption

Advanced Mobility

  • Design more efficient and effective mobility systems
  • Diversify transportation options and fuels
  • Effectively use power system assets

Working Together

These challenges require sensible solutions. Working with industry, government, research, and nonprofit partners, we can achieve them far faster and more efficiently than working on them alone. NREL is committed to ensuring our research gets to market—where it can improve everyday life and strengthen our economy. Learn more about working with NREL.