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News and Feature Stories

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

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December 2008

December 19, 2008

See How Renewable Energy Works in Your Backyard

Whether you live in a mansion or a cottage, NREL's In My Backyard can show you which solar or wind system might be right for your home almost anywhere in the U.S. In My Backyard helps calculate solar or wind resources, the economics of renewable energy systems and answers other basic questions. Researchers now have made the online tool more informative and easier to use.

December 18, 2008

GRC 2009 Annual Meeting Announced, Call for Abstracts Issued

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) issued a call for abstracts today with the announcement of the world's largest geothermal event taking place October 4-7, 2009, in Reno, Nevada, at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino. Themed “Geothermal 2009: Making Renewable Energy Hot,” the GRC is the sponsor of the annual meeting.

December 12, 2008

NREL to Work with Labs in China, Brazil and Germany

NREL is collaborating with laboratories on three continents to advance renewable power and fuel technologies and expand clean energy industries worldwide. The partnerships will team scientists and analysts in photovoltaics, biofuels and concentrating solar power. Expanding the lab's international profile is vital if renewable energy technologies are to reach their potential.

December 11, 2008

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center Creates New Tool to Calculate Ways to Cut Gas Use

A business owner with a fleet of 10 heavy-duty diesel trucks wants to cut diesel use by 10 percent. Would using a biodiesel blend or investing in onboard power sources that reduce engine idling achieve the biggest drop in petroleum use? An average driver, using 600 gallons of gas a year in a typical sedan, wants to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent. Would using fuel economy techniques such as buying new low rolling-resistance tires reduce gas use the most or would taking the bus to work once a week produce better results? Fleet operators, business owners, and every-day drivers wanting to reduce their petroleum consumption can pinpoint such calculations with the newest tool at the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, https://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/prep/index.php. The Petroleum Reduction Planning (PREP) tool computes the drop in petroleum consumption by employing eight different methods – or a combination of those methods. For every-day drivers, they can calculate their reductions by using fuel economy techniques, hybrid electric vehicles, biodiesel blends and other alternative fuels, or by reducing the number of miles driven through such measures as using mass transit or telecommuting. For fleet operators and business owners, additional methods of truck stop electrification, idling time reduction and onboard idle reduction technologies are provided for calculating reductions. PREP can help every kind of driver create a strategy for cutting conventional fuel use.

December 9, 2008

Extra-High-Voltage Line from AEP Would Connect Wind-Rich Dakotas

American Electric Power is evaluating the feasibility of building a multi-state, extra-high-voltage transmission project across the Upper Midwest.

December 9, 2008

Colorado Study Confirms Low Grid Integration Costs for Wind

A new study released this week once again adds to the body of peer-reviewed literature confirming that the cost of integrating wind energy with the electric grid is quite low.

December 5, 2008

NREL Helps Stylish Home Use 80% Less Energy

For Sale: A new bungalow near the American River in historic Folsom, California. With NREL's help, the environmentally friendly design cuts utility bills and peak electric demand by 80 percent, yet blends into a turn-of-the-20th century streetscape. Green Builder Magazine named the bungalow Home of the Year.

December 3, 2008

DOE to Award $14.55 Million for Advanced Vehicle Technologies

Ford Motor Company has received funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop an energy-efficient way to cool, heat, and ventilate cars. NREL will serve on Ford's project team.

December 2, 2008

Spanish Wind Power Hits Record 43% of Demand

Renewable energy has boomed in recent years in Spain, as the country tries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce its heavy dependence on fuel imports. Spain is also saving large sums of money in the process.

November 2008

November 26, 2008

Wishing for a Renewable Future

Most kids want to visit Disney World. Not David Godfrey. The San Jose teenager wants to help others – and the planet – by spreading the use of renewable energy. With help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the young scientist shared his innovative ideas at NREL and got the chance to shake a wind turbine blade, zip around in advanced vehicles and explore the molecular structure of biofuels organisms.

November 25, 2008

NREL Tests New Structure for Jet Impingement Cooling of Power Electronics

NREL's Transportation Technologies and Systems researchers tested a novel prototype heat exchanger that uses jet impingement cooling and does not restrict heat flow in the power electronic components of advanced vehicles. Power electronics modules and electric motors are critical systems for advanced plug-in hybrid electric and electric vehicles. Power electronics can generate excessive heat, which degrades their performance, reliability, and life. NREL focuses on developing thermal management technologies that help to increase power density and lower system costs.

November 21, 2008

NREL, Iberdrola Launch New Solar Network

Sure, the desert is sunny. But when it comes to building a solar power plant costing hundreds of millions of dollars, finding absolutely the best sunlight can make the difference in making sufficient electrons – and a profit. NREL and industry partners have launched a new solar instrument network in the Southwest that will measure the solar resource in unprecedented detail.

November 21, 2008

Glenwood Springs Teacher Recognized for Renewable Energy Efforts

Students taking science classes at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs, Colo., are learning about energy efficiency and renewable energy in a hands-on way in addition to learning in the classroom. The students are learning about energy issues within their school and community through direct development and design of energy projects that benefit their school. Susy Ellison, a science teacher at Yampah Mountain High School, has championed implemented thisthese unique curriculum programs that introduces students to the world of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. Her outstanding efforts have earned Brown Ellison the annual Renewable Energy Teacher Award from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

November 20, 2008

NREL Ignites New Renewable Fuels Heating Plant

Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory lit its new, smoke-free Renewable Fuels Heating Plant today. The $3.3 million project is the Laboratory's latest step toward operating as a net-zero energy facility.

November 20, 2008

NREL, Brazilian Energy Company to Collaborate on Bioenergy

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) announced today that they have signed an agreement that could accelerate the development and international commercialization of biofuels. The announcement was made at the International Biofuels Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

November 14, 2008

Growth Forum Attracts 500 Clean Energy Backers

Participants in NREL's 21 Industry Growth Forum learned that despite current market conditions, the prospect of long-term national support for renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D and the recognition of how "green collar" jobs can drive economic recovery generate an enthusiasm for clean energy's prospects that most industries would envy.

November 13, 2008

NREL and Private Industry Begin Nationwide Solar Measuring Network

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and IBERDROLA RENEWABLES have jointly deployed the first of several solar resource measuring stations as part of a planned instrumentation network throughout the United States.

November 11, 2008

Puget Sound Energy Files to Pass on Wind Financial Benefits to Customers

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) wants to reduce its customers' bills thanks to the high performance of wind power on its system.

November 7, 2008

Wind Turbines Generate Interest in Energy Careers

Teenagers in Jerome, Idaho, will flip the switch on a small wind turbine on the lawn next to their middle school this week with help from NREL's Wind for Schools program. The turbine will make electricity, but more important it can spark the imagination and inspire students to pursue careers in renewable energy.

October 2008

October 31, 2008

SolarTAC to Be Largest Commercial Solar Test Facility

Air travelers landing in Denver soon can look out on a field of glittering solar panels as NREL helps launch America's largest shared commercial solar testing facility. Energy companies and scientists will use the site to test, validate and demonstrate technologies before commercial deployment.

October 30, 2008

NREL's Clean Energy Forum Attracts National Investment Community

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) convened its most successful clean energy investment forum to date at the 21st Clean Energy Industry Growth Forum in Denver, Colo. October 28-30. The forum attracted about 500 investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and policymakers to the nation's leading clean energy technology investment forum.

October 28, 2008

Wind, Other New Generation Creating Crucial Need for Transmission: NERC Report

“We need more transmission resources to maintain reliability and achieve environmental goals,” said Rick Sergel, president and CEO of NERC.

October 24, 2008

NREL Solar Technologies Recognized with Special R&D 100 Honors

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) took home high honors from Editors of R&D Magazine recently for two separate solar cell technologies that were named “the most revolutionary technologies of the year.”

October 24, 2008

Wood Chips to Heat Laboratories, Save Natural Gas

NREL is switching to a sustainable, efficient source of heat using wood thinned from Colorado forests. A new boiler facility will heat laboratory buildings by burning wood chips from trees lost to pine beetles and could displace 80 percent of natural gas used to heat the campus, offsetting 4.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

October 20, 2008

Updated Biodiesel Guide Helps Ensure Optimum Performance

Those who operate vehicles that run on biodiesel or who produce, blend, store, or distribute this renewable fuel will want a copy of the new, fourth edition of NREL's popular Biodiesel Handling and Use Guide. This edition contains new information on standards and best practices on storage stability, low-temperature blending and operability, and new biodiesel blend specifications to ensure optimum performance.

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