Feature Stories

The following feature stories take an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at how NREL is advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

June 2009

June 19, 2009

NREL, Industry Work to Halve Building Energy Use

Partners from the private sector, the U.S. Department of Energy, and national labs including NREL are working together to drastically reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings. This week, NREL launched a new Web site dedicated to the collaborative research project dubbed "National Accounts."

June 12, 2009

NREL Energy Analysts Dig into Feed-In Tariffs

Feed-in tariffs have helped to transform cloudy Germany into the world leader of installed solar power and photovoltaic manufacturing. In a trio of reports, NREL energy analysts say similar incentives could stimulate renewable energy development on this side of the Atlantic, too.

June 5, 2009

Vets and 'Gray Fields' Go Green with NREL

NREL recently hosted a very green graduation ceremony — the Veterans Green Jobs Academy saw its first class of graduates eagerly accept their diplomas before heading off to jobs in the new energy economy. A partnership with NREL to create a National Training Demonstration Center in Energy Efficiency was announced at the event, too.

May 2009

May 29, 2009

Labyrinth to Store Energy in Basement for Later Use

There's a labyrinth in the basement of NREL's newest building. The maze wasn't designed to hem in a mythical beast or to confuse workers, but it is a trap — one that will capture the heat of the day or the cool of the night, hold onto it and then slowly release the thermal energy to help warm or cool the building.

May 22, 2009

Solar, Hydrogen Model Cars Race Toward New Energy Future

Bright skies and creative designs combined for blistering speeds at the 2009 Junior Solar Sprint and Hydrogen Fuel Cell car competitions. The NREL-hosted event attracted 78 teams from 29 Colorado middle schools. For the 19th year, student teams raced solar or hydrogen powered vehicles that they designed and built themselves.

May 15, 2009

NREL Scientist Finds Time to Do it All

Senior Scientist Huyen Dinh has been with NREL a relatively short time but is tackling big projects involving millions of research dollars, worldwide collaboration with colleagues, and has welcomed a new member to her family. Motivated by her past, she takes multitasking to a whole new level.

May 8, 2009

Two Years Later, Greensburg is Officially Green — with NREL's Help

Two years after a tornado annihilated Greensburg, the Kansas farm town gives NREL the city's inaugural award for helping it realize its ambition to become America's model green community with wind power and efficient new buildings. "NREL has made our lives easier and better," said City Administrator Steve Hewitt.

May 1, 2009

Recovery Act Money Invested at NREL

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu made his first visit to NREL as secretary an especially memorable one — announcing $110 million in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate construction of the Laboratory's campus, dramatically expanding NREL's capacity for renewable energy research and partnerships while showcasing some of the world's most energy efficient buildings.

April 2009

April 24, 2009

NREL and Ford Team Up to Develop 'Cool' Cars

NREL soon will be joining with Ford in a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) to study and develop high-efficiency thermoelectric climate systems for cars. NREL, which has been working for years to understand how cooling techniques affect fuel use and comfort, has developed unique tools to help the research.

April 17, 2009

NREL Gearbox Study Aims to Grease Wind Power's Future

Wind turbines are designed to last 20 years. But gearboxes and other key components are wearing out sooner. Engineers at NREL's National Wind Technology Center are working with industry to discover why and retool the design process to improve reliability, reduce the cost and help the nation reach its clean energy potential.

April 10, 2009

NREL Helps Sort Green Transportation Options

With a variety of green transportation options to chose from, fleet managers hoping to preserve the environment along with a bottom line can be excused for sometimes being confused. Through the Alternative Fuels Data Center, NREL helps fleet managers successfully support their company's sustainability goals with a variety of online tools.

April 3, 2009

Algae-to-Fuel Research Enjoys Resurgence at NREL

After languishing for more than a decade, NREL's algae program is revitalized and expanding, as hundreds of companies try to commercialize processes to turn algae into fuel. Now researchers are focusing on a better understanding of algae biology and trying to separate myths from reality surrounding this promising source of "green crude."

March 2009

March 27, 2009

NREL Assigns Renewables Experts to Hawaii, Alaska

Hawaii and Alaska have a few things in common: Their remote locations result in high energy prices, but they also have ample clean energy resources. And, NREL experts are working with government officials and utilities in both states to deploy renewable energy technologies and integrate these new systems into local grids.

March 20, 2009

Lab Preserves Nature, History

NREL's South Table Mountain campus teems with wildlife. Its dry landscape is home to more than 200 plant species. The site includes cultural gems that speak to the region's past. And, NREL is growing. But growth for the future won't mean changing the nature of the place or ignoring its history. NREL staff is keeping a watchful eye to ensure that construction has minimal impact on the environment.

March 13, 2009

NREL Tests Energy-Saving Office of the Future

New administrative offices for the U.S. Department of Energy's Golden Field Office and NREL will be in one of the world's most energy efficient buildings. Planners have set their sights on achieving a LEED Platinum rating; employees, however, are simply dubbing the building as the "office of the future."

March 6, 2009

Partnerships Boost Research, Improve Technology

Sometimes the most efficient path to success is to find a partner to work with along the way. NREL uses CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreements) to help the best minds in industry and government team up to find solutions for alternative energy. A recent CRADA with DuPont sought solutions to make ethanol from corn stalks.

February 2009

Feb. 27, 2009

NREL Helps New Orleans Go Green

New Orleans is going green as it rebuilds after Hurricane Katrina — with a big assist from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. New homes and public buildings are being designed with energy efficient features to reduce energy use while remaining comfortable in a muggy climate.

Feb. 20, 2009

Controlling Heat Key to Hybrid Performance

Advanced hybrid-electric vehicles are poised to transform the auto market. But excess heat can sap hybrids' advantages. Researchers in NREL's Advanced Electronics Laboratory are exploring every layer of hybrid technology to reduce heat and dramatically improve performance and efficiency while reducing costs.

Feb. 13, 2009

Governor Honors Alternative Energy Advocate

Colorado's governor recently honored NREL's Chuck Kutscher with the Governor's Excellence in Renewable Energy Award. Kutscher has dedicated 30 years to NREL, is a tireless advocate of renewable energy as a climate change solution, and is a writer, a teacher and a leader in the solar industry.

Feb. 6, 2009

Science Bowl is Fun with a Future

Science is fun! Just ask students across the country currently competing for a trip to the National Science Bowl. But there is a not-so-hidden agenda for Science Bowl sponsors: engage the next generation of scientists and engineers. "We truly enjoy science," one of the competitors says. "With science there are so many places you can go in life."

January 2009

Jan. 30, 2009

Bigger and Better: Lab Aims to Improve Giant Wind Turbines

It's going to be a big summer at NREL's National Wind Technology Center. The national laboratory is installing two giant turbines from GE and Siemens for performance testing that will continue for years. The research aims to make turbines taller, larger, less expensive, more reliable and more efficient.

Jan. 23, 2009

Wanted: Energy Innovators

David Hsu came to NREL to make a difference by helping reduce the nation's dependence on oil. In the current economy, NREL is unusual: the national laboratory is hiring new employees, expanding its campus and planning for more growth to meet the nation's energy challenges. That's why NREL needs energy innovators, such as biofuels analyst Hsu.

Jan. 16, 2009

NREL Seeks Energy Innovators

In the current economy, NREL is unusual: we are hiring new employees, expanding our campus, and planning for continued growth. Driving this growth is the critical need to move technologies developed at NREL into the marketplace to meet the nation's energy and environmental challenges. To meet these challenges head on, NREL is hiring energy innovators.

Jan. 9, 2009

New Solar Technology Concentrates on Cost, Efficiency

The SkyTrough parabolic dish at NREL's South Table Mountain test site uses a reflective laminate over lightweight sheet metal to focus the sun's energy. The technology now being scrutinized by NREL engineers could make concentrating the sun's heat to generate electricity more efficient and affordable. "It's unlike any parabolic trough design used so far," says senior engineer Keith Gawlik.

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