News Release: Inflation Reduction Act Invests $150 Million in NREL Projects

Improvements to Colorado Campuses Will Accelerate NREL’s Mission for a Clean Energy Future

May 22, 2023 | Contact media relations

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will begin work on a series of additions and improvements to two of its campuses made possible by $150 million in funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). These improvements are critical to combat climate change and increase U.S. research competitiveness.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm made the announcement during a visit to NREL as part of a celebration of the expansion of the NREL campus in which she dedicated the newest building, the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL). The RAIL building, which will house multipurpose lab space, is the first laboratory building to open on the campus in nearly a decade.

The addition of RAIL is the latest in a series of planned work involving the NREL campus and the surrounding area. DOE has taken ownership of the former Camp George West site south of NREL and will transform the 6.6-acre site into the South Table Mountain Energy Park (STEP), which will serve as an incubator for clean energy companies. The state of Colorado intends to build the Global Energy Park directly adjacent to NREL as a hub for the cleantech industry.

“NREL’s tranquil location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains belies the tenacity with which the lab’s researchers are working to develop game-changing technology,” Secretary Granholm said. “This investment from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will give the lab the resources it needs to help us tackle climate change and create a more resilient and secure power grid.”

“Thanks to the historic IRA, we will be able to make vital upgrades to lab infrastructure and enable clean energy research and development that is imperative to addressing the climate crisis,” said Martin Keller, director of NREL. “The funds will accelerate three-plus years of planned capital investment to modernize research infrastructure supporting Department of Energy clean energy research and development activities, critical laboratory renovations, and deferred maintenance.

NREL is the primary national laboratory focused on renewable power, sustainable transportation, and energy-efficiency technologies. The laboratory is a leader in developing clean energy solutions and charting pathways to cut emissions throughout the economy while maintaining a reliable energy system and reducing energy costs.

NREL’s IRA funds have been designated for the following priorities:

  • $93 million for modernizing research infrastructure, including new and expanded facilities to advance technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels, and advancing NREL’s Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) research platform that will support the administration’s decarbonization goals in the grid, buildings, transportation, and industrial sectors.
  • $57 million for laboratory renovations and deferred maintenance to improve facilities for NREL researchers and allow NREL to lead by example by cutting overall emissions from lab operations.

The IRA was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022, by President Joe Biden, who called it “the most aggressive action” to combat climate change ever. IRA invests $369 billion over 10 years with key investments to build a clean energy economy. This legislation will put the United States on a path toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 2005 levels and achieving President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Additionally, the legislation will accelerate the country’s energy transition while advancing environmental justice, benefiting public health, and creating good paying domestic jobs.

The IRA includes significant funding for research and innovation at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories to keep America on the cutting edge of a clean energy future. At NREL, the funding will support projects between the South Table Mountain Campus in Golden, Colorado, and the Flatirons Campus near Boulder, Colorado.

Major projects include the construction of a new Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility pilot plant, which will focus on the development of sustainable aviation fuels. The lower carbon intensity of sustainable aviation fuel makes it an important solution for reducing aviation greenhouse gases (GHG), which make up 9%–12% of U.S. transportation GHG emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This facility will be critical to decarbonizing a key piece of the transportation sector.

Other projects include the construction of an analytical suite for the Materials, Chemical, and Computational Science directorate to fast-track discovery and deployment of new clean energy technologies. NREL is also investing in critical laboratory renovations, which will advance the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies, and supporting the integration and optimization of energy systems required to decarbonize the U.S. economy.

The Flatirons Campus will also receive a sizable investment, including expanding electrical and water line capacity, as the campus currently trucks in its water supplies.

NREL continues to seek more ways to partner with DOE and other federal agencies, as well as industry, state, local, and tribal stakeholders, to execute the full vision of the IRA.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.