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Mission and Programs

NREL advances the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies and provides the knowledge to integrate and optimize energy systems.

NREL Mission Focus


Vehicle Technologies




Residential Buildings

Commercial Buildings




Water Power



Grid Integration

Distributed Energy Systems

Batteries and Thermal Storage

Energy Analysis


Private Industry

Federal Agencies

State/Local Government

International, Research, and Nonprofit Organizations

R&D Programs

NREL is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

NREL analysis informs policy and investment decisions as energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application to market penetration. With objective, technology-neutral analysis, NREL aims to increase the understanding of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, and infrastructure and connections between these and economic, environmental, and security priorities.

Learn more about NREL's Analysis Program.

The Bioenergy Program supports NREL research and development that focuses on biomass characterization, thermochemical and biochemical biomass conversion technologies, biobased products development, and biomass process engineering and analysis. NREL also works to develop cost-effective, environmentally friendly biomass conversion technologies to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, improve our air quality, and support rural economies.

Learn more about NREL's Bioenergy Research Program.

The Buildings Research Program supports NREL research and development that focuses on improvements in residential buildings, in commercial buildings, in building equipment and components, building energy analysis tools, manufacturing, and in lighting and appliance standards. NREL is a nationally recognized leader in buildings research combining renewable energy with innovative technologies to significantly reduce energy consumption in buildings.

Learn more about NREL's Buildings Research Program.

NREL and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) work closely together on projects that demonstrate and validate energy technologies with approaches that can be replicated for broad impact across DOD.

Learn more about NREL's work with the U.S. Department of Defense.

NREL's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) focuses on reducing energy use at federal facilities. FEMP helps agencies save energy and taxpayer dollars by advancing energy efficiency and water conservation, promoting the use of distributed and renewable energy, and improving utility management decisions at federal sites. NREL provides expert technical assistance and training in identifying viable energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy projects for agency implementation through the private sector.

Learn more about NREL's Federal Energy Management Program.

NREL's Geothermal Technologies Program leads the research and development effort to enhance conversion of geothermal energy into heat and electricity. The program promotes the economical production of electricity from low- to moderate-temperature geothermal resources by increasing plant cycle utilization efficiency, optimizing plant design, and lowering operation and maintenance costs.

Learn more about NREL's Geothermal Technologies Program.

NREL's grid modernization researchers work with industry, government, and academia to solve the challenges of integrating renewable power sources and emerging energy-efficiency technologies with the electric grid at all scales—while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure in the face of growing cybersecurity and climate concerns.

Learn more about Grid Modernization.

Hydrogen and fuel cells are an important part of the comprehensive and balanced technology portfolio needed to address the nation's two most important energy challenges—significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions and ending our dependence on imported oil. NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell research focuses on hydrogen production, delivery, and storage. It also focuses on fuel cells, technology validation, analysis, education, manufacturing, and more.

Learn more about NREL's Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program.

NREL's international work spans our full range of capabilities, which include three primary areas of expertise: Analysis, Research and Development, and Deployment and Commercialization. NREL's core international activities include multilateral partnerships, bilateral partnerships, climate and environment initiatives, and energy assessments.

Learn more about NREL's International Program.

Solar technologies use the sun's energy to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. NREL's Solar Research Program focuses on two major solar energy technologies: Photovoltaic (PV) research and solar thermal research. In addition, the nation's premier research facility for PV is the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV), headquartered at NREL.

Learn more about NREL's Solar Research Program.

Working in partnership with public and private organizations, we research, develop, and demonstrate innovative vehicle and fuel technologies that reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil and improve our energy security and air quality. NREL conducts research into the areas of vehicle systems analysis and testing, advanced propulsion and vehicle efficiency improvements, energy storage technologies, advanced power electronics, advanced combustion engines, and fuels technology.

Learn more about NREL's Transportation Research.

NREL supports the U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Program in improving the performance, lowering the costs, and accelerating the deployment of innovative water power technologies.

Learn more about NREL's Water Research.

NREL's Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program (WIP) provides U.S. and international consumers and decision makers with technical assistance and information to accelerate the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Through WIP, NREL partners with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including state and local governments, auto companies, fleet managers, building and facility managers, tribal governments, weatherization agencies, and other countries and international agencies.

NREL supports the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program.

NREL is the lead lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's wind technology research and development program and home to the nation's only full-service wind turbine test center the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The NWTC works extensively with industry to design and test cost-effective wind systems and components.

Learn more about NREL's Wind Research.