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NREL Steps Up To and Meets SunShot Grand Challenge

June 28, 2012

The SunShot Grand Challenge: Summit and Technology Forum was a huge success, due in no small part to NREL's involvement. The summit, which drew an impressive 700 participants, focused on SunShot Initiative goals aimed at achieving grid-parity solar energy within the decade. NREL's director, scientists, and support staff played important roles in planning, managing, participating in, and generally supporting the event.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), David Danielson, acknowledged NREL's research activities that are supporting the SunShot Initiative. "EERE and NREL are attached at the hip," he said. "NREL is EERE’s lab and we only want to strengthen that relationship. We look forward to getting as much competitive impact as we can out of NREL."

The summit took place June 13 and 14 at the downtown Denver Hyatt Regency hotel and coincided with the SunShot Initiative's second anniversary. It featured well-known leaders from government, industry, and academia, including the top minds in solar—scientists, policymakers, and representatives from utility companies and manufacturers—who were able to collaborate in person at the event. Participants reviewed the progress of the past two years and reassessed the challenges that must be overcome.

The agenda included:

  • Plenary sessions and speakers, featuring Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy; Dan Arvizu, director of NREL; Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University; and other eminent industry and government leaders
  • Group discussions focusing on the future priorities and transformational ideas needed to achieve the SunShot goal of cost-competitive solar by the end of the decade
  • An interactive technology forum providing a comprehensive picture of the SunShot landscape.

Approximately 100 NREL employees attended the conference and a number of NREL scientists participated in panel discussions.

DOE announced the event less than two months before it was scheduled to take place, so many at NREL had to work quickly to help prepare. NREL was tapped by DOE as part of the core planning team to provide comprehensive communications support for the event. Within six weeks, NREL created and executed the website, the media and engagement campaign, the email marketing plan, exhibits, print materials, onsite photography, signage, highlight videos, and poster session coordination among other tasks.

For photos of the event and more information about the summit and SunShot, see theSunShot Grand Challenge Summit and Technology Forum website and the SunShot Initiative website.