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Our Cutting-Edge Computing Supported 300+ Clean Energy Projects.

View this online overview of accomplishments or download the full report.

In fiscal year (FY) 2021, NREL played a critical role in computing advancements for clean energy research, pushing the boundaries of high-performance computing (HPC) and efficient data center operation along with state-of-the-art data visualization capabilities.

Computing Usage


NREL's HPC resources provided an essential foundation for scientists and engineers to rapidly assess and integrate data into their clean energy research.

535 HPC Users
302 HPC Projects
95% HPC Availability
90% HPC Utilization

Capability Upgrades


Significant upgrades to NREL advanced computing capabilities include these featured projects. For more details and all upgrades, download the full report.

New High-Performance Computing System—Kestrel—Soars on the Horizon

NREL selected its third-generation HPC system, called Kestrel, expanding its supercomputing capacity to 44 petaflops in the near future. Kestrel is designed to accommodate advancements in artificial intelligence and to enable emerging data-driven workflows, such as those that fuse simulation with new sensor data sources.

Swift Cluster Supports Computing Demand for Vehicle Technologies Research

Co-located within the HPC Data Center, the Swift cluster started operation, providing additional capability to support the unprecedented computing demand across the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technology Office's research portfolio. Swift is a 440-node cluster with 28,160 compute cores and 2 petabytes of storage.

High-Resolution and Tactile Displays Advance Scientific Data Visualization

The Insight Center was upgraded with two-dimensional visualization capabilities: a 10X update in its high-resolution display wall and new interconnected, tactile displays. The display wall leverages visual acuity, supporting users’ peripheral vision and spatial memory, while the touch interfaces provide easy interaction with the displayed data.

Artificial Intelligence Improves Data Center Operation Efficiency and Resilience

NREL partnered with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to add AI to the HPC Data Center, developing data-driven models to merge NREL's real-time data processing system with HPE's data monitoring/management system to improve efficiency and resilience. Read Artificial Intelligence for Data Center Operations (AI Ops).

Research Highlights


NREL's advanced computing research collaborations spanned across multiple disciplines and technologies as these featured highlights show. For more details, download the full report.

Aerial shot of Los Angeles residential and business area

Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study

For the LA100 Study, the Eagle supercomputer integrated modeling tools and methods, incorporated multiple-source data, and ran 100 million+ simulations.

Traffic-related icons overlayed on an aerial view of intersecting highways.

Real-Time Traffic Signal Algorithms

NREL used AI and HPC to deploy real-time traffic signal model predictive control algorithms in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for energy savings.

Icons of earth, wave technology, batteries, wind/solar, and hydrogen.

Future Grid Energy Storage Scenarios

The Eagle supercomputer simulated future high-storage power systems scenarios for the Storage Futures Study, a multiyear research project.

Illustration of tunable surface binding showing organic modifier, atomic layer deposition, and ternary composition

Biomass and Waste Conversion Modeling

HPC resources enabled research collaboration on modeling strategies to reduce the energy and carbon intensity of biomass waste conversion.

Researcher adding a substance to an experiment.

Biofuels and Plastics Upcycling Modeling

To improve biofuels and plastics upcycling, the Eagle supercomputer used machine learning for metabolic modeling at the cellular scale.

Hydrogen molecules

Hydrogen Production Photocathode Simulations

From Eagle supercomputer simulations, researchers discovered the self-improving behavior of a photocathode used in hydrogen production.

Six vials containing substances

Additive Manufacturing Cost and Efficiency Simulations

Researchers used Eagle to perform simulations that improve efficiency and reduce costs of metal powder production for additive manufacturing.

Diagram showing the lifecycle of the circular economy

Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment and Visualization

HPC resources supported the Circular Economy Lifecycle Assessment framework, a tool modeling the impacts of clean energy supply chains.

A geothermal power plant

Geothermal Reservoir Performance Predictions

Using advanced machine learning algorithms, researchers improved predictions for geothermal reservoir performance under a range of scenarios, enabling system optimization.

Illustration of a wind turbine simulation

Wind Plant Energy Modeling and Simulations

Through the HPC High-Fidelity Modeling Project, NREL used the ExaWind simulation environment to reduce a wind plant's energy losses and costs.

Eagle bird soaring in the sky.

Eagle-Smart Wind Plant Risk Modeling

NREL's computer scientists and wind energy researchers are developing a model to mitigate the risks wind turbines pose to golden eagles.

U.S. map showing renewable energy resources

Energy Deployment Scenario Visualizations

For building new ways to explore energy deployment scenarios, NREL is creating visualizations that help users make decisions on data with uncertainty.

Two large photovoltaic arrays.

Photovoltaic Durability and Reliability Database

This large-scale, cloud-based, time-series database streams, processes, and stores more than 27 billion measurement records from several solar installations.

Four researchers conversing in front of two large data visualizations with U.S. maps and charts.

U.S. Building Stock Data Set

NREL used a combination of cloud computing and HPC resources to develop a new data set of end-use load profiles for the U.S. building stock.

Several computer server stacks



NREL's advanced computing staff recorded the following software developments and inventions in FY 2021.

Athena - Shuttle Bus optimization and Event Driven Simulator (SWR-20-105)

Athena - Digital Twin for Airport Terminal Traffic (SWR-20-106)

Distributed Energy Resources Communications Library (SWR-20-110)

Real-Time Feedback-Based Optimization of Distributed Energy Resources (SWR-20-111)

IEC61850 to DNP3 Converter (SWR-21-03)

Sparse Invertible Networks (SWR-21-28)

3D Campus Power Flow Visualization Intelligent Campus (SWR-21-51)

Renewable Energy Potential Model Dashboard (SWR-21-59)

Diverse Super-Resolution (SWR-21-60)

Renewable Energy Potential Model Supply Curve Viewer (SWR-21-66)

Multi-Fidelity Economic Dispatch Dashboard (SWR-21-70)

Reinforcement Learning-Ready Mobility on-demand simulator (SWR-21-77)

Stochastic Soaring Raptor Simulator (SWR-21-78)



For a list of FY 2021 advanced computing publications, visit NREL's Publications Database or download the full report.




Read more about Advanced Computing FY 2021 accomplishments by downloading the full report.


For information about NREL's advanced computing capabilities, see the Computational Science website.

Learn more about our research in these companion annual reports:

Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems Annual Report

Energy Systems Integration Facility Annual Report.