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Technology Development and Deployment

A schematic of a seawater desalination system powered by concentrating solar power.

Schematic of a seawater desalination system powered by concentrating solar power.
Figure 10. from A. Al-Karaghouli et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13 (2009) 23972407

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NREL has extensive experience and expertise related to energy-water technology research and is exploring a unique system-of-systems concept to energy systems integration and technology development and deployment.

This approach considers the relationships among electricity, thermal, and fuel systems and data and information networks to ensure optimal integration and interoperability across the entire energy system spectrum. NREL's Systems Performance Laboratory focuses on the development and integration of smart technologies, including the integration of distributed and renewable energy resources through power electronics and smart energy management for building operations.

Key Activities

  • Systems modeling and systems engineering
  • Demand response/smart grid/energy efficiency
  • Modeling end-use and generation
  • Systems Performance Laboratory in the Energy Systems Integration Facility

NREL's low-water cooling system design activities seek to provide technological solutions to efficiency and cost tradeoffs inherent between water-based cooling systems and air-based cooling systems. Cooling systems are generally designed and analyzed for geothermal and concentrating solar power technologies.

Example Projects

  • Deluge method for air-cooled condensers
  • Enhanced fin for air-cooled condensers
  • Hybrid wet-dry geothermal cooling systems
  • Cooling system design for concentrating solar power

Core Capabilities

  • Buildings and Thermal Systems Center

Sample Publications

NREL's desalination work evaluates how renewable energy technologies can be harnessed to provide electricity and/or thermal energy to power desalination processes. Projects can vary from rural village-level to larger national-level in scale. NREL work seeks to optimize treatment technologies and energy requirements with different renewable technology types.

Example Projects

  • Saudi Arabia desalination project
  • Concentrating solar power desalination
  • U.S. Virgin Islands desalination
  • Low-enthalpy geothermal desalination

Core Capabilities

  • Buildings and Thermal Systems Center
  • Integrated Applications Center

Sample Publications

NREL's low-freshwater biofuels work towards developing new biofuel feedstocks that require lower quantities of freshwater or that can utilize non-fresh sources of water. NREL's algae work identifies solutions in the context of the broader energy-water-land nexus.

Example Projects

Core Capabilities

  • Field Test Laboratory Building

Sample Publications

Notable Projects

  • Distributed energy systems integration
  • Large-scale renewable energy integration
  • Residential and commercial-scale integration
  • Campus/city/community-scale integration
  • Regional and national integration


  • Systems Performance Laboratory
  • Energy Systems Integration Facility