NREL – A renewable energy innovation leader and info center


Aries Clean Energy

Publication Date

February 25, 2020

Bioenergy research – NREL photo

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the only federal laboratory dedicated to research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

The mission of NREL is to advance the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies. It also provides knowledge to integrate and optimize energy systems.

NREL’s bioenergy research covers all aspects of discovery science, from exploratory research to pilot-scale processing. Its partnerships with industry, academia, and other government entities are central to achieving the NBC’s goals. An abundance of research and other information is available on its website at Let’s take a quick tour of what it does.

NREL Golden, Colorado, campus – NREL photo

Three National Research Centers
The NREL is comprised of three research centers dedicated to studies in bioenergy, photovoltaics and wind energy.

National Bioenergy CenterResearch here includes: Biomass Feedstocks; Techno-Economic, Sustainability, and Market Analysis; Biochemical Process Development and Integration; Biomass Deconstruction and Pretreatment; Biogas Upgrading and Waste-to-Energy; Biological and Catalytic Conversion of Sugars and Lignin; Algal Biofuels; Thermochemical Process Integration, Scale-Up, and Piloting; and Heterogeneous Catalysis for Thermochemical Conversion.

National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) This center works to advance the state of the art across the full spectrum of photovoltaic (PV) research and development at the NREL. Its research focuses on boosting solar cell conversion efficiencies; lowering the cost of solar cells, modules, and systems; and improving the reliability of PV components and systems. The scientific advances and industry support of NCPV scientists and engineers serve as a foundation for the U.S. PV community. In particular, the NCPV’s efforts contribute to the above goals through high-impact successes in fundamental research, advanced materials and devices, and technology development and through valuable collaborations and support of universities, the PV industry, and PV users.

National Wind Technology Center – NREL’s wind energy research at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), located on the Flatirons Campus, has pioneered wind turbine components, systems, and modeling methods that have driven the industry’s acceleration over the past 40 years.
Its water-power program research validates, evaluates, develops, and demonstrates hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy systems at the Flatirons Campus. NREL analysts work with the U.S. Department of Energy, universities, independent systems, and regional transmission organizations to provide data and models to assist in managing wind grid system integration.

Facts at a Glance

  • 3 collaborative research facilities (mentioned above)
  • 16 research programs
  • Business volume – $491.8 million
  • Publications – More than 1,700 scientific and technical materials published annually
  • Partnerships – 871 active partnerships with industry, universities, foundations, and governments
  • Technologies for licensing – 571 patents issued for NREL technologies to date
  • Campus Size – 327 acres Golden, Colorado, main campus; 305 acres Flatirons Campus – home of wind research
  • Employment – 2,700 employees, postdoctoral researchers, interns, visiting professionals, and subcontractors
  • From 2014 to 2019 — 12,184 students visited NREL for an educational field trip
  • 2020 marks the 30th year of both the Middle School Car Competition and the High School Science Bowl
  • NREL raised $476,279 total supporting 413 charities and cause-areas

Photovoltaic research – NREL photo

Want to know more? Plan a visit to NREL

Walking Campus Tour

Visitors to our main Golden campus will learn about our research and see how we are demonstrating clean energy technologies, reducing waste, and eliminating atmospheric pollution.

Tours are available at no charge and are held the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The tour is a vigorous, outdoor walking tour, so visitors are urged to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. Tours start at the NREL Education Center.

Participants must be 18 or older, a U.S. Citizen, and have a photo ID. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. Email the public tour organizer or call 303-384-6565 to make a reservation.

Visiting –

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