National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL’s work focuses on advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to the commercial marketplace through industry partnerships. The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, a partnership between Battelle and the Midwest Research Institute, manages NREL for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.


NREL Campus
NREL Campus

NREL began operating July 5, 1977, as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI). SERI was a federal facility dedicated to harnessing power from the sun and quickly caught national attention. In 1978, President Carter was the first U.S. President to visit the lab; fast forward to 1991, and another U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, elevated SERI to a national laboratory and changed the name to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL became the only national laboratory with the single focus to create clean and renewable energy technologies.

Making a Difference

NREL’s discoveries in renewable energy have shaped our transportation alternatives and provided options to power our homes and businesses. For example, the cost of wind energy has declined from 40 cents per kilowatt-hour when the lab was founded, to 6-9 cents today. These lower costs have helped wind energy become the fastest growing source of new electricity in the nation. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic (PV) panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, has dropped from several dollars per kilowatt-hour to 20-25 cents a kilowatt-hour. The projected cost of ethanol made from biomass has plummeted from almost $6 per gallon to about $2.60 today, helping spur the construction of the first cellulosic ethanol plants in the United States.

Click here to view the slides presented by Dan Arvizu (NREL's director) at an event in Singapore in November 2010 about the transition to a Clean Energy Future.

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NREL’s renewable energy and energy efficiency research spans fundamental science to technology solutions.

Renewable Fuels

  • Biomass
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
  • Vehicle Technologies(advanced vehicles, fuel quality and testing)

Renewable Electricity

  • Solar (PV, concentrating solar power and solar thermal)
  • Wind and Water
  • Geothermal
  • Electric Systems (smart grid technology and standards, transmission and distribution systems integration, energy storage)
  • Building Technologies (building efficiency, building-integrated PV)

Energy Science

  • Chemical and Biosciences
  • Scientific Computing
  • Materials Science

Strategic Energy Analysis

  • Technology
  • Economic, Environmental, and Security
  • Markets
  • Policy, Government, and Programs

Industry Partnerships

Through a variety of partnership types, such as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and Test & Evaluation partnerships, NREL has worked with hundreds of industry partners from across the U.S. and around the world. Click here for a list of NREL's current and previous partners, or to see a map displaying the partnering companies.

International Project Assistance and Collaborations

NREL's international work spans the full range of capabilities, which include three primary areas of expertise:

  • Analysis — NREL provides technology-neutral information, global and regional assessments and decision tools, and expert advice.
  • Research and Development — NREL conducts collaborative research and development (R&D) and shares methods and results with leading research institutions throughout the world.
  • Deployment/Commercialization — NREL teams with private industry, other countries, and international institutions to mobilize investment in and broad use of RE and EE technologies.

Our core activities within the international arena include:

  • Multilateral Partnerships
  • Bilateral Partnerships
  • Climate/Environmental Initiatives
  • Global Energy Assessments and Knowledge Transfer
  • Researcher-Driven Collaboration

NREL's international work is supported by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department, the United Nations Environment Programme, the UNFCCC Climate Secretariat, and other sponsors.

NREL International Program

What's New at NREL

NREL has just released a "State of the States" report with regional information about renewable generation. For a summary of state trends visit

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External Links

American-Made Challenges Administrator

Debbie Brodt-Giles

American-Made Challenges Tech Lead

Nick Langle