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Dan Says

NREL Analysis: Reimagining What's Possible for Clean Energy

A headshot of a man in a suit, smiling.

Dr. Dan Arvizu

An objective, credible analysis capability has been part and parcel of NREL's mission from our inception as the Solar Energy Research Institute in 1977. Our founders understood the vital role of providing technology-neutral analysis to ensure that innovations developed in the lab fit the needs of the energy consumer. Today, NREL continues to develop tools that increase our understanding of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, and infrastructure, as well as the connections between these tools and economic, environmental, and security priorities.

This issue of Continuum Magazine covers the depth and breadth of NREL's ever-expanding analytical capabilities. For example, in one project we are leading national efforts to create a computer model of one of the most complex systems ever built. This system, the eastern part of the North American power grid, will likely host an increasing percentage of renewable energy in years to come. Understanding how this system will work is important to its success—and NREL analysis is playing a major role. We are also identifying the connections among energy, the environment and the economy through analysis that will point us toward a "water smart" future.

Photo of three men standing in front of a visualization screen

From left to right: Nicholas Brunhart-Lupo, Kenny Gruchalla and Brian Bush discuss a 3D visualization that shows the results of a sensitivity analysis of more than 1,400 simulations computed using the NREL-developed Biomass Scenario Model. This display allows analysts to develop insights into the nonlinear relationships between policies affecting the biofuels industry and the potential future evolution of that industry. This NREL-developed visualization capability can be applied to any complex model with numerous input parameters and output metrics.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

We know that our future will likely include many energy technologies—not just renewables. And NREL's growing body of work on the nexus of natural gas and renewable energy offers insights on transforming our energy economy to include multiple energy options.

On the business and financial front, NREL analysis leadership is helping to identify and overcome barriers with accessing capital that prevents pension and mutual funds from investing in solar power. And in the domestic manufacturing arena, NREL sees opportunities for the United States to use and manufacture clean energy technologies, which can improve the environment and our economy. You can also read about how NREL analysis is making a difference on our roads. Fleet managers and individual drivers alike can use the innovative data found in NREL's suite of transportation tools to green up their travel decisions.

NREL's analytical work doesn't stop at our nation's borders. We collaborate with partners around the world to build global networks that support low-emission economic development. Within these networks, developing countries can partner with subject matter experts to gain insights into, and assistance with, the incorporation of renewable energy into national power systems.

I invite you to read more about how NREL decision science and analysis capabilities guide energy systems transformation at home and around the world. Join me in reimagining what's possible for clean energy.

NREL Analysis: Reimagining What's Possible for Clean Energy

Summer 2015 / Issue 8

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Editorial Team

  • Kim Adams | Managing Editor
  • Bill Gillies | Creative Director
  • Dennis Schroeder | Photographer
  • Jennifer Josey | Editor
  • Michael Oakley | Web Development
  • Amy Glickson | Web Development
  • Email the editor