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Accelerating Clean Energy at Scale

Accelerating Clean Energy at Scale (ACES) translates community energy goals from ambitions to actions.

Tribal Council members and partners cut a ribbon in front of a solar panel system.
For decades, we have worked with governments, communities, businesses, and investors to turn clean energy ambitions into actions.

To move from energy ambitions to actions, communities need in-depth energy-sector expertise and insight. As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research lab, NREL provides scientific insights, decision support, and technical assistance based on scalable, integrated, customized modeling and analysis and in-depth stakeholder engagement. We support a vision for rapid, widespread transition to clean, affordable, equitable, secure, and resilient energy systems.

The Path to an Equitable Energy Future

As an objective, noncommercial convener of energy leaders, NREL has helped more than 2,000 tribes, communities—many of which are historically underserved—utilities, and businesses advance their clean energy goals with support from a broad range of private- and public-sector sponsors.

We customize and integrate our tools and models to enable holistic analysis and strategy development with community stakeholders and partners, illuminating pathways to clean, affordable, equitable, secure, and resilient energy systems.

Energy transitions benefit millions of Americans by:

  • Boosting local economies
  • Increasing energy security and affordability
  • Advancing environmental equity
  • Reducing emissions
  • Building energy system resilience.

As NREL supports communities in completing energy transitions, we leverage best practices and apply proven methodologies and strategies to more communities, quickly and effectively. We can scale this agile approach to support diverse and wide-ranging energy goals and transitions—in small communities to regional collaboratives—building momentum toward a national equitable, clean energy future. 

Codeveloped Options Address Specific Community Goals

The foundation of energy transition planning is engagement—understanding the perspectives, challenges, and priorities of communities, utilities, investors, and other community members. This collaboration informs data-driven, technically sound actionable options addressing communities' unique energy-system goals and diverse priorities, including:

  • Partnership opportunities 
  • Investment strategies 
  • Technology possibilities and scenarios  
  • Energy equity considerations 
  • Illustration of trade-offs—through modeling and visualization.

ACES provides support—including workforce development—to implement community-selected options, developing partnerships and leveraging public and private funds to enable infrastructure and other investments. Communities benefit from NREL's understanding of the complex dynamics of energy sector planning and implementation decisions, which is based on decades of technical and financial support from DOE, universities, and the business and finance sectors.

Researchers looking at large monitors with charts of data surrounding a map of North America.

From Energy Ambitions to Actions

Community energy transitions benefit from and build on the accomplishments of jurisdictions that have tapped into NREL's objective, cross-sectoral experience and analysis to inform key decisions. We apply learnings from these clean energy pioneers and customize and scale our approach to fit the unique needs of communities and businesses.

City of Los Angeles

NREL provided rigorous analysis and technology expertise to inform decision-making targeting economic growth, energy security, and equitable access to local clean electricity resources. The city's approach combines ambitious political leadership, local utility governance, a network of community organizers, and partnerships with world-class universities. See the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study.

Font du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Members worked with NREL to understand the economics of individual energy projects, leading to a broader plan and setting up the tribe to be a regional leader in energy and air quality issues. See Fond du Lac Band Poised to Double 2020 Clean Energy Goal on the DOE website.

New York

Leaders turned to NREL for a neutral analysis of options to achieve a bold goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and economy-wide, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. NREL also supported New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy by integrating energy efficiency, sustainability, and renewable energy measures into recovery efforts.

The city of Kingston, New York, partnered with NREL to revitalize and increase economic resilience through strategic economic, technological, social system research and address the high energy burden among low-income households.


NREL Supports Kingston, New York, in Building a Community-First Approach to 100% Renewable Energy, NREL Fact Sheet (2020)

Unprecedented Analysis of LA's Clean Energy Transformation, NREL Fact Sheet (2020)


ACES partnerships leverage experience and networks from successful models such as:

Wind Powering America

DOE Clean Cities

Solar Energy Innovation Network

DOE Energy Transitions Initiative and the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnerships Project

Innovation Incubator

Energy Executive Leadership Academy.