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Decision Support for Tribes

NREL's State, Local, and Tribal program partners with Native American tribes and Alaska Native villages, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and other federal agencies, nonprofits, and intertribal organizations to provide resources and direct assistance that support energy technology delivery and connect motivated tribal governments with NREL's world-class science and analytics.

Graphic showing the percentage of total tribal generation potential represented by utility-scale renewable technologies for the lower 48 states. The potential for solar PV is 51.1%; the potential for concentrating solar power is 36.8%; the potential for wind is 11.4%; the potential for hydropower is 0.6%; the potential for biomass is 0.1%, and the potential for geothermal is 0.001%.

Solar resources account for nearly 90% of renewable energy generation potential on tribal lands in the conterminous 48 states.

Tribal lands comprise approximately 5.8% of the total U.S. land base, but represent an estimated 6.5% of the total U.S. utility-scale renewable energy technical potential, according to research from NREL. With a high value placed on community self-sufficiency and self-determination, tribes and Alaska Native villages are well positioned to lead the clean energy market by providing scalable sustainable community models that are transferable to state, local, and national governments.

Energy Decision Support

To connect tribes with credible, timely, and actionable scientific information on which to base their energy decisions, NREL provides the following tailored programs:

  • Technology and Market Analytics. NREL provides credible research and analytics to identify impactful opportunities for energy development on tribal lands. Drawing on NREL's deep scientific and technical knowledge related to energy, and core capability of energy analytics, NREL provides tailored information to tribal leaders and other stakeholders to inform energy decision making.

  • Direct Technical Assistance. NREL has been working with tribes to solve clean energy challenges since 1995, with more than 300 high-impact interactions occurring since 2012. Currently, tribes have cost-free access to NREL expertise through DOE's Office of Indian Energy

  • Capacity Building. To effectively deliver clean energy technologies to market, governments, program administrators, and technology end users, NREL provides technology, market, and stakeholder communications strategy trainings to tribes. Recent trainings have been offered through the DOE Office of Indian Energy.

  • Resilience Assessment and Planning. NREL provides renewable energy community assessments to identify climate vulnerabilities and help develop solutions. Leveraging extensive experience in disaster planning, response, and recovery, NREL works with tribes to develop community-specific plans and strategies to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience.

Programmatic impacts reflect NREL's ability to connect world-class science and engineering research with tribal governments to directly access the benefits of energy development for their members and create groundbreaking replicable models for broad adoption of innovative energy technologies. Look for examples of NREL work on the DOE Office of Indian Energy blog.

For guidance on tribal energy projects, see the DOE resource library and education and training offerings.

Contact Us

To partner with us or for more information on how NREL connects world-class science and engineering with tribal priorities to create models for energy development nationwide, please contact Elizabeth Doris

Featured Tools

Screenshot of the Tribal Energy Atlas geospatial tool, which highlights energy resources on tribal lands on a map of the United States

Screenshot of the user-friendly Tribal Energy Atlas tool.

Tribal Energy Atlas

Query data by tribal land and conduct simple analyses of demographics, installed capacity, utility-scale renewable energy technical potential, and more

Geothermal Prospector

Examine, distribute, and analyze geothermal resources and identify sites for geothermal development

Solar Power Prospector

Shows sites for developing utility-scale solar power

Wind Prospector

Visualize data and analyze the potential for wind energy

Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Models

Analyze the economic impacts of constructing and operating power generation and biofuel plants at the local and state level

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