Skip to main content

Running on Renewables: NREL's Bold Vision for Decarbonizing Transportation (Text Version)

This video is an overview of NREL’s transportation decarbonization research and vision.

Video opens with a collage of transportation related images and photos.

Transportation is at a turning point. On the horizon lies a future where renewable electricity powers our mobility systems, realized through a combination of direct vehicle electrification and the use of energy-dense, low-carbon fuels. Together with transformative improvements in mobility, wide-spread electrification of transportation will support the integration of high-levels of renewables and help transform the power grid.

Shot of the entrance to NREL’s South Table Mountain Campus.

At NREL, we’re laying the scientific groundwork to get there.

Shot of a vehicle pulling up to a gas pump, followed by a shot of an electric vehicle driving down a road.

Our research is driving sustainable transportation solutions for all: Whether cars and trucks …

Shot of highway traffic.

… boats …

Aerial view of a dock with ships.

… planes, or trains …

Side-by-side shots of a train and a plane.

NREL’s deep decarbonization vision leverages what’s possible from a fully integrated energy system.

Aerial view of a highway with an animation of direction coordinates.

Our approach is based on abundant and low-cost renewable electricity, generated from sources like wind and solar to form the backbone of a clean, affordable, and equitable transportation system.

Shots of a wind turbines, photovoltaic modules, and a hand on a steering wheel.

Some electrons will power battery vehicles directly—with potential to supply nearly three-quarters of all transportation energy use. And through smart control strategies, zero-emissions battery electric vehicles offer a prime opportunity to support the grid by integrating renewable energy sources.

Shot of plugging in an electric vehicle to charge it, an animation of a globe showing lights across the United States, and a shot of an electric vehicle charging station. Aerial view of a charging station, and a shot of several photovoltaic modules with a city in the background.

For hard-to-electrify sectors—like long-haul trucks, aviation, and marine—renewable electrons take another route. They can be used to produce hydrogen and energy-dense liquid fuels, which can be integrated with bioenergy and are compatible with today’s fueling infrastructure and vehicle needs.

Shots of a semi-truck driving down a road, a plane flying, a large ship in the ocean, three researchers looking at large computer monitors showing data, a worker in a hard hat next to a large gas pipeline, and a busy highway.

In a sector that is the largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the U.S. today, NREL sees opportunity to transform energy and tackle climate change. Electrification of fuels and vehicles, along with system-level improvements in mobility, will enable deep decarbonization of the transportation sector—creating value across multiple sectors of the nation’s economy. With a world-class facilities and renowned researchers capable of solving the most complex energy integration challenges, NREL is ushering in a new era of clean, integrated, and sustainable transportation.

Shots of a busy highways, a person plugging in their electric vehicle to charge, a tramway system in a city, parking spaces painted with vehicle-charge icons, a plane landing, a city dockyard with highway running over it, NREL’s wireless tram, a researcher viewing results on lab equipment, an electric system board, an aerial shot of NREL’s South Table Mesa campus, and a large PV module powering a vehicle charging station.

Text onscreen: Learn More, nrel.gov/transportation.