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Program News

Access news stories from NREL's research programs.

December 21, 2010

DOE Finalizes $1.45 Billion Loan Guarantee for One of the World's Largest Solar Generation Plants

A $1.45 billion loan guarantee has been finalized for Abengoa Solar Inc.'s Solana project, the world's largest parabolic trough concentrating solar plant.

December 20, 2010

NREL Interns Take Three First Place SERCh Awards

NREL interns recently presented their research in poster form at the 2010 Science and Energy Research Challenge (SERCh) Poster Competition, and three landed on top.

December 14, 2010

Hydrogen Bus Lets Lab Visitors Glimpse Future

The hydrogen bus uses the same basic technology as a conventional gasoline-powered engine but runs on renewable hydrogen.

November 12, 2010

NREL Program Empowers Leaders to Implement Solar

Executives in business, government, and other organizations are finding solutions to energy and environmental challenges by tapping into the power of renewable energy, thanks to a new program at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. After completing the five-month program that includes briefings by NREL technology experts, research laboratory tours, and visits to field applications, many of the graduates of the 2010 Executive Energy Leadership program have initiated solar projects.

October 27, 2010

Offshore Wind Energy Poised to Play a Vital Role in Future U.S. Energy Markets

A new report analyzes the current state of the offshore wind energy industry in the United States.

October 26, 2010

Wind Power's Impact on Grid Reliability, Backup Supply, and Fossil Fuel Use in New England Webinar

The Webinar included a discussion on the impact of wind's variability on power systems and reviewed preliminary results of the New England Wind Integration Study with a question and answer session.

October 26, 2010

NREL Scientists Lauded as Industry Pioneers

At the recent World Renewable Energy Congress/Network (WREN) in Abu Dhabi, three researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) were named WREN Pioneers. Dr. Falah Hasoon, Dr. Chuck Kutscher and Dr. David Renné were recognized for the impact their discoveries and innovations have made to the progress and acceptance of renewable energy technologies.

October 25, 2010

New Report Identifies Ways to Reduce Cost of Fuel Cell Power Plants

A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory details technical and cost gap analyses of molten carbonate fuel cell and phosphoric acid fuel cell stationary fuel cell power plants and identifies pathways for reducing costs.

October 22, 2010

John Wohlgemuth Brings PV Reliability, Standards Expertise to NREL

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has hired John Wohlgemuth, a respected scientist who specializes in documenting failures in silicon and thin-film photovoltaic modules. His new role as a principal scientist in NREL's photovoltaics reliability group will draw upon his deep knowledge and experience in performance and reliability, along with his international work on standards.

October 21, 2010

NREL Completes Testing of SkyTrough Collector

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has completed testing of the new SkyTrough parabolic trough collector, developed by SkyFuel. The collector uses a special mirror film that was jointly developed by SkyFuel and the laboratory. NREL worked with SkyFuel over a period of many months to help them improve the optical design. The final test results indicate that this new, lightweight design has a performance comparable to that of collectors using heavier glass mirrors.

October 19, 2010

President Obama: Ivanpah CSP Plant to Create Clean Energy and Jobs

A concentrating solar power plant planned for southeast California has been praised by President Obama as an illustration of how clean, home-grown energy can boost employment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Once constructed, the 370-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station would nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the United States today.

October 18, 2010

NREL's Hydrogen-Powered Bus Serves as Showcase for Advanced Vehicle Technologies

NREL uses its hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine bus as the primary shuttle vehicle for VIP visitors, members of the media, and new employees. The U.S. Department of Energy funded the lease for the bus to showcase hydrogen's role in our nation's portfolio of sustainable transportation options.

October 18, 2010

First National Geothermal Student Competition Announced

As many as 10 collegiate teams will be awarded $10,000 each to participate in this first-ever competition. Apply today!

October 14, 2010

Three NREL Biofuels Experts Make List of Top 100 People in Bioenergy

Three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been named to Biofuels Digest's “Top 100 People in Bioenergy” for 2010. Tom Foust, Al Darzins, and Phil Pienkos were selected as bioenergy leaders through a two-week Biofuels Digest reader poll that garnered more than 15,000 votes.

October 14, 2010

Three NREL Biofuels Experts Make "Top 100 People in Bioenergy" List

Three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been named among Biofuels Digest's “Top 100 People in Bioenergy” for 2010. Tom Foust, Al Darzins, and Phil Pienkos were selected as bioenergy leaders through a two-week Biofuels Digest reader poll that garnered more than 15,000 votes.

October 7, 2010

DOE Releases Comprehensive Report on Offshore Wind Power in the United States

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the release of a report from the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which comprehensively analyzes the key factors impacting the deployment of offshore wind power in the United States.

September 28, 2010

Explosion in Installed Wind Capacity Brings Big Benefits

Dave Loomis, Illinois State University Professor of Economics and Center for Renewable Energy Director, in an interview says, "We've grown to this point [more than 1800 megawatts of installed wind power capacity]so rapidly because there was unconstrained transmission resources available, but we're starting to bump up against resource constraints on the transmission grid. And so to really unlock more of that potential, we need more transmission to be built in pockets where it's really windy and we can connect those really windy areas with high demand areas such as Chicago."

September 27, 2010

NREL Handbook Enables CSP Development

Today's concentrating solar power (CSP) systems can require substantial upfront investment for project development and construction. Projected cash flow analysis requires accurate knowledge of current and projected solar radiation at individual project sites. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has just made the task easier by publishing a handbook that tells how to collect, interpret, and use solar resource data during all stages of development. Project developers, engineering procurement construction firms, utility companies, energy suppliers, financial investors, and other participants in CSP plant development should find this new handbook a valuable resource.

September 27, 2010

Interview with ISO-NE as it Undertakes In-Depth Study of Integrating Wind Power into the Grid

In 2008, as Independent System Operator — New England Inc. (ISO-NE) considered adding thousands of megawatts of wind power to the region's electric grid, they turned to John Norden. With more than 27 years of experience in the region's electric systems and market operations, John was tasked with understanding the challenges posed by adding growing amounts of variable wind generation to the system. The U.S. Department of Energy Wind Powering America project's New England Wind Forum spoke with John as ISO-NE undertakes an in-depth study of integrating wind power into the grid.

September 20, 2010

California Approves 1,000-Megawatt CSP Plant

The California Energy Commission has approved the world's largest commercial-scale, concentrated solar thermal electric generating facility. Composed of four 242-megawatt solar plants that are sited near the Arizona border on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the facility is expected to provide jobs and advance California's energy and climate goals.

September 13, 2010

NREL Breakthrough Could Spawn Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Cells

A special etching process developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) makes silicon wafers darker, and thus able to absorb almost all of the solar spectra that reach the surface. This innovation is expected to lead to solar cells that cost less and are more efficient than the ones used on rooftops and in solar arrays today.

September 3, 2010

NREL Staffer Helping to Design Geothermal Power Course at University of Nevada - Reno

NREL Geothermal team member and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) engineering professor, Masami Nakagawa, will be designing an eight-week intensive accredited course with other geothermal energy experts.

September 2, 2010

IKEA Geothermal System Could be Model for Others

NREL has teamed up with IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings retailer, to showcase and study the advantages of a geothermal heating and cooling system.

July 30, 2010

Molten Salt Transfers, Stores Heat in Italian CSP Plant

The first parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant in the world to use molten-salt as a heat transfer fluid and to store heat began operating in Italy in mid-July. The 5-megawatt plant in Sicily is also the first to integrate a combined-cycle gas facility and a solar thermal power plant for electricity generation.

July 28, 2010

Fuel Cell Buses Show Significant Increase in Durability and Reliability

NREL first began evaluating hydrogen-fueled transit buses in 2000. Over the years, NREL has collected and analyzed data on nine early generation fuel cell buses operated by four transit agencies in the United States. In 2007, one of the manufacturers replaced the early generation fuel cell power systems in five of the buses with newer systems that featured improvements based on lessons learned during prior operation. According to NREL's evaluation, these current generation systems show significant improvements in durability and reliability.

July 23, 2010

First Hybrid CSP-Coal Power Plant is Fired Up in Colorado

Concentrating solar power (CSP) is boosting the energy produced by a coal-fired power plant east of Grand Junction, Colorado. The first of its kind in the United States, the hybrid demonstration plant is expected to increase energy production 5% above what the coal plant previously produced, plus reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,000 tons per year. The project is considered an important test in proving the commercial viability of integrating coal plants with CSP.

July 23, 2010

Nevada Desert Site Chosen to Demonstrate CSP Technology

A new Solar Demonstration Zone has been established in the Nevada desert by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Interior. The departments will collaborate in the effort to demonstrate advanced concentrating solar power technologies and thus help push them to full-scale commercialization.

July 20, 2010

DOE Announces $30 Million to Small Businesses for Clean Energy Technology Commercialization

$30 million in funding from the Recovery Act and DOE fiscal 2010 budget appropriations will be made available to qualified small businesses to support the commercialization of promising new technologies.

July 16, 2010

Report Explores Acceptance of Concentrating Solar Power in San Luis Valley

A new report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in a joint effort with the University of Colorado, provides important insight into the social acceptance of utility-scale concentrating solar power plants in the San Luis Valley. The valley, approximately 200 miles southwest of Denver, is an ideal source of solar energy for Colorado because of its abundant solar resource.

July 8, 2010

DOE Offers $1.45 Billion Loan Guarantee to Abengoa Solar

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a $1.45 billion conditional loan guarantee to Abengoa Solar to build a concentrating solar power generating facility in Arizona. The project will create 1,600 jobs during construction and will deliver electricity to 70,000 Arizona homes.

July 2, 2010

Geothermal in the Oil Field Symposium

The U.S. Department of Energy's Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC), NREL, and the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Geothermal Laboratory are partnering to host a two-day geothermal symposium in Casper, Wyoming.

June 22, 2010

NREL Evaluates Secondary Uses for Lithium Ion Vehicle Batteries

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory requested proposals from potential industry and academic partners to help evaluate secondary uses for lithium ion batteries that have reached the end of their useful lives in electric-drive vehicles. Proposals were due May 26, 2010.

June 22, 2010

BLM Announces Solar Energy Rental Rates for Public Lands

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its rental schedule for solar energy right-of-way authorizations on public lands. The schedule will provide some additional cost certainty for the solar energy industry.

June 17, 2010

NREL Garners Awards for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research and Development

NREL staffers and subcontractors received awards at the Annual Merit Review.

June 10, 2010

EPRI Joins SolarTAC

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has become a sponsoring member of the Solar Technology Acceleration Center or SolarTAC—one of the world's largest solar test and demonstration centers. The center is a private, member-based, outdoor facility in Aurora, Colorado, where the solar industry tests, validates, and demonstrates advanced solar technologies. EPRI's involvement will allow its members to conduct research at the facility and is expected to help hasten utility-scale solar technologies to the marketplace.

June 3, 2010

Putting the Forklift before the Horseless Carriage

In warehouses across the nation, hydrogen fuel cells are being tested in forklifts to see how the emerging technology fares compared to conventional batteries in cost, performance, and safety.

May 25, 2010

DOE to Invest $6 Million in Midsize Wind Turbine Technology Development

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the availability of up to $6 million to advance midsize wind turbine technology in order to boost the speed and scale of midsize turbine deployment. DOE will provide the funding over two years to accelerate the development, testing, and commercialization of domestically manufactured, midsize wind turbines with rated generating capacities between 100 kilowatts and 1 megawatt.

May 21, 2010

Journal Article: How to Phase out CO2 Emissions from Coal by 2030

A journal article entitled, "Options for Near-Term Phaseout of CO2 Emissions from Coal Use in the United States" and an accompanying environmental news story will appear in the June 1 issue of Environmental Science & Technology. The peer-reviewed article describes how greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. coal burning power plants can be eliminated in the next two decades. Written by a group of scientists, engineers, and architects from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies & Columbia University Earth Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and 2030 Inc./Architecture 2030, the article advocates immediate and aggressive action. Both the journal article and a related news story are currently available online.

May 20, 2010

Western Wind and Solar Integration Study

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study investigates the operational impact of up to 35% energy penetration of wind, photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power on the power system operated by the WestConnect group of utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

May 20, 2010

Western Wind and Solar Integration Study: Executive Summary

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study investigates the operational impact of up to 35% energy penetration of wind, photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power on the power system operated by the WestConnect group of utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

May 14, 2010

Apply Now for Energy-Efficient Housing Research Partnerships Request for Proposal

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America residential research program, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for research teams to support Building America activities. Building America forms research partnerships throughout all facets of the U.S. residential building industry to develop cost-effective solutions that improve the quality and energy efficiency of new and existing homes.

May 11, 2010

Secretary Chu Announces up to $62 Million for CSP R&D

The U.S. Department of Energy is making up to $62 million available to 13 projects over five years to research, develop, and demonstrate concentrating solar power systems. Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the announcement May 7, stating that the investment would generate new jobs and "pave the way towards a clean-energy future.”

May 5, 2010

DOE National Labs Extend Deadline for Commercial Building Partnerships Call for Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced support for energy-saving commercial building projects as part of an ongoing effort to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the United States.

May 4, 2010

NREL Helps DOE Promote Cutting-Edge Technology

Researching breakthroughs in energy now is easier thanks to a new Web site that quickly accesses patents for technologies developed by DOE laboratories.

May 3, 2010

NREL Honored for 20 Years of DOE Science Bowl Support

As part of its 20-year celebration, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) presented the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with two awards for the lab's 20-year sponsorship and support of the National Science Bowl. The awards were given out by Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the finals for the Science Bowl Competition in Washington D.C.

April 27, 2010

Alcoa and NREL Testing New Concentrating Solar Power System

Alcoa has teamed with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to test an advanced concentrating solar power technology that uses highly reflective, durable aluminum mirrors instead of traditional glass mirrors that are heavier and more prone to break. The research is aimed at lowering the cost of producing the technology so as to make it competitive in the United States.

April 26, 2010

Wind Energy: Overcoming Challenges Well Worth the Outcome

An interview with Ron Rebenitsch, Basin Electric Power Cooperative Manager of Alternative Technologies, describing transmission and the 20% Wind Energy by 2030 projection for North Dakota.

April 21, 2010

International Collaboration Focuses on Hydrogen Safety Sensors

Scientists and engineers at NREL's Safety Sensor Test Laboratory are collaborating with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre to assess the performance of various hydrogen sensor technologies.

April 13, 2010

New Fact Sheet Explains Solar Power's Role in Grid of the Future

How will distributed and centralized renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, contribute to the electricity system of the future? The Energy Analysis Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has published a fact sheet that answers this question and also explains the how the electric grid works, and why a mix of renewable energy technologies will be necessary to keep up with the constantly changing demand for electricity.

April 12, 2010

New Opportunities to Improve Commercial Building Energy Efficiency

As part of an ongoing effort to reduce energy use in new and existing commercial buildings by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), commercial building owners, operators, and technical experts can join DOE's (CBP) initiative. Three DOE national laboratories—the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)—will manage this new effort, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

April 12, 2010

Fuel Cell Bus Fills up at NREL's Hydrogen Fueling Station

Thanks to a new fueling agreement, drivers with NREL approval can now fill up their hydrogen-powered vehicles at the hydrogen fueling station.

April 8, 2010

The Utility Wind Integration Group Announces 2010 Technical Achievement Honorees

NREL staff to receive UWIG Technical Achievement Awards.

April 6, 2010

NREL's Emery Receives Hubbard Award

Keith Emery, Principal Research Supervisor at the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was honored with the H.M. Hubbard award on March 16. Emery received the award for seminal contributions to the measurement science of photovoltaic devices and modules and for establishing a world-class, internationally recognized measurement facility.

April 6, 2010

NREL's Kutscher and Jorgensen Honored for Outstanding Performance

Chuck Kutscher and Gary Jorgensen, who work in the Concentrating Solar Power program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, received outstanding performance awards from the laboratory on March 16. Kutscher was honored for his far-reaching and influential volunteer work in the solar field. Jorgensen was recognized, in part, for co-inventing two technologies that helped the laboratory win two R&D 100 awards.

March 17, 2010

Solar Demonstration Zone Project Seeks Technical Innovations; RFI Submittals Due April 2

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Program has issued a new Request for Information (RFI) for The Solar Demonstration Zone Project. The project aims to facilitate the development of a group of projects in the Southwest United States that showcase new advanced solar technologies. All RFI responses must be submitted by April 2.

March 2, 2010

Environmental Assessment Issued for 750-Megawatt Solar Two Project

A project to deploy 42,000 solar dishes in the Southern California desert has passed a key hurdle with the issuance of a draft environmental impact statement. Stirling Energy Systems and Tessera Solar recently deployed a much smaller system, featuring 60 solar dishes, in Arizona.

February 26, 2010

Department of Energy Releases New Estimates of Nation's Wind Energy Potential

New Wind Resource Assessment and Maps Available

February 25, 2010

DOE Awards Nearly $1.4 Billion in Loan Guarantees to BrightSource Energy

DOE has awarded a conditional loan guarantee for nearly $1.4 billion to BrightSource Energy for three utility-scale concentrated solar power plants in southeastern California. Pending regulatory approval, the Ivanpah Solar Complex will generate about 400 megawatts of energy.

February 8, 2010

NREL Evaluates Fuel Cell Technologies in Early Market Applications

NREL staffers are assessing the performance of fuel cell systems in real-world operation.

January 27, 2010

Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study: Executive Summary and Project Overview

The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study was designed to answer questions about technical issues related to a 20% wind energy scenario for electric demand in the Eastern Interconnection. This is the revised version which contains a few changes and replaces the pre-released version posted on 1/13/10.

January 20, 2010

Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study

The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study examines the operational impact of up to 20-30% energy penetration of wind on the power system in the Eastern Interconnect of the United States.

January 18, 2010

NASA Lends Researcher for Battery Development

NREL and NASA are working toward similar goals: creating large, high-performing lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery solutions for vehicles that are safe and reliable.

January 18, 2010

SolarReserve Signs PPA for 100-Megawatt CSP Project

A California-based energy developer has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to sell electricity generated by a 100-megawatt concentrating solar power project. The project, to be located in Nevada, will use a molten-salt storage system and provide jobs and tax revenue for the south-central region of the state.

January 12, 2010

DOE/NREL/MASSCEC Develop New Blade Test Facility

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) premier wind technology research facility, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), is providing the expertise to design and construct the nation's newest wind research facility – the Wind Technology Testing Center (WTTC).

January 6, 2010

PV Mapping Project Gathering Data, Evolving

A new photovoltaic (PV) mapping project is collecting data from across the country so that users can better understand historical and current trends in the PV market. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Market Analysis group is spearheading the Web-based project, which is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public. Users may add their own PV installation data, browse data entered by others, and view statistics.

January 6, 2010

DOE to Invest up to $366 Million in Energy Innovation Hubs

DOE has announced plans to invest up to $366 million in Energy Innovation Hubs that will speed research in three areas, two of which relate to energy efficiency and renewable energy. Of those two, one will produce fuels from sunlight, while the other will improve energy-efficient building designs.

January 5, 2010

Updated Report Details an Emerging CPV Industry

After incorporating feedback from the industry, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has updated a report that assesses the status of the rapidly growing concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) industry.

January 4, 2010

Secretary Chu Announces Efforts to Strengthen U.S. Electric Transmission Networks

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today award selections for $60 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support transmission planning for the country's three interconnection transmission networks.

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