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In , NREL raised the bar even higher when its Research Support Facility became the first federal building verified to achieve net-zero energy performance, producing as much energy as it consumed. As a customer, you want your solar panels to work as advertised. NREL has worked with others around the world to define standards that can help customers gain confidence in the solar systems they buy and to help differentiate the very best products. NREL plays a key role in helping the community move toward solar systems that are low cost and that work reliably.

Since the inception of the commercial wind industry in the s, NREL has collaborated with turbine manufacturers to develop many of the technology innovations that enabled the success of the industry today. In the early s, the Wind Partnership for Advanced Component Technologies WindPACT project explored improvements in rotor design to improve reliability and decrease the overall cost of energy. WindPACT partnerships between NREL and turbine manufacturers led a generation of technology innovations including pitch control and variable speed strategies, which in turn gave way to enlarged rotors for greater energy capture at reduced cost.

NREL's world-class modeling capabilities have underpinned several groundbreaking technical reports. To effectively evaluate energy-saving measures for new residential construction and retrofits, architects and engineers need access to software that can model the economics and efficacy of such measures throughout the design process. ResStock, built on the free NREL-created OpenStudio platform , is geared at modeling residential building stock for national, regional, or local analysis using the U.

Department of Energy's EnergyPlus, a whole-building energy simulation program for gauging energy and water use. This innovative software solution makes energy modeling more accessible and affordable, helping building professionals design homes that consume less energy, saving homeowners money and strengthening the U. When you need to compare wind turbine model predictions with measured behavior, it's time for a road trip.

While visiting the world's largest wind tunnel in , they gathered data sets from more than 1, different inspection scenarios for their Unsteady Aerodynamics Experiment. This data set has an amazing longevity, being heavily used for leading research for over 15 years. That's what NREL has been doing for 40 years on tens of thousands of samples, representing a couple dozen solar cell technologies. You name it—silicon, high-efficiency multijunction, thin-film, or emerging solar cells such as perovskite or quantum dots—and NREL provides reliable, unbiased testing, measurements, and validation of how well these technologies perform under standard conditions.

NREL is one of only a handful of labs worldwide that can do this.

The Clean Growth Plan: A "2050-ready" new-build homes policy

Accurately measuring the performance of solar cells and modules helps researchers assess technical designs and compare technologies, and allows investors and consumers to make more informed decisions. We're the gold standard for solar cell testing. A wind turbine that spins all day, every day will rotate more than million times over the course of its lifetime.

How can we be sure that it won't tire out? Blade inspection methods use the natural vibration modes of the blade itself to enable vigorous shaking of blades about as big as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Duplicated in research facilities around the world, these techniques have been applied to every certified turbine operating globally.

Scientists have looked at everything under the sun to figure out how to store renewable energy for use when people need it most. Turns out, the answer may be part solar, part wind, and part water. NREL and utility company Xcel Energy can use wind or solar power to split water molecules into usable hydrogen fuel. Perhaps the answer to long-term clean energy storage really is blowing in the wind.


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This important standard allowed simplified interconnection to all generation and storage connected at the distribution level and had over people from industry, academia, and government in the working group. What was once a hodgepodge of utility regulations was standardized across the U. Distributed PV has taken off so much in recent years, that new updates to the standard are currently under review that would allow active participation in these devices to increase grid stability and reliability.

Every wing has an airfoil, which is a fancy word for the shape of the wing's cross-section. But until , when NREL developed the first airfoils designed specifically for wind energy applications, the industry relied on airfoils designed for airplanes. This caused poor turbine performance, thanks to the fact that wind turbine blades operate in constant turbulence near the ground where bugs and dirt come into play. Now, wind turbine manufacturers worldwide follow NREL's lead by designing their own airfoils, and turbine performance levels have increased dramatically.

NREL has been an innovator in university competitions to spur market transformation. All of these competitions are proven training programs for students launching careers in the clean-energy workforce. This project involved collegiate 20, college students teams to design and build energy-efficient, solar-powered houses; expanded to Europe, China, Latin America, and the Middle East to involve an additional 94 teams and 12, participants; and educated the public through exhibits and widespread media coverage and harnessing digital tools to reach millions of people.

The Clean Growth Plan: A "ready" new-build homes policy | Energy Saving Trust

Without a map, how would we know where we are going? NREL's leadership in resource mapping has provided a powerful pathway to ensuring renewable technologies are successfully deployed at speed and scale. These visualization tools have helped policymakers, researchers, and industry partners analyze resources and other important technology deployment factors—ensuring our technologies have an impact. A vast amount of energy-related data is generated throughout the world, but historically, access to this data has been difficult and limited. Forty years ago, the U.

To lasso this rodeo, NREL got together with international partners to develop a set of objective design standards and requirements that ensured any machine built, no matter how innovative, would be able to withstand the rigors of its environment. Reliability levels have taken off since. Resulting projects have provided a local economic stimulus, improved the operational resilience of federal infrastructure and lowered federal energy costs, enabling agencies to better direct appropriations toward their missions.

Our Accomplishments NREL advances the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies. Cool ride: thermal management boosts EV performance Regulating battery and power electronic system operating temps is key to optimizing the performance, lifespan, safety, and affordability of electric-drive vehicles. Home run: building energy modeling a hit NREL made building energy modeling easier for architects by creating the OpenStudio software platform, which works with SketchUp, a 3-D drawing tool that architects often use to design buildings.

Fewer fossils help clean cities NREL's support of DOE's Clean Cities program provides technical assistance to early adopters of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and access to sophisticated tools, vital data collection, and fleet analysis.


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  • Bright lights, fast solar tests NREL developed the FlashQE system, which measures the quantum efficiency QE of solar cells 1, times faster than previous methods, making in-line measurements possible. Wind facility blows wave energy testing out of the water An NREL dynamometer facility designed for wind has undertaken first-of-its-kind research to help advance new ocean energy technology. These walls really suck to preheat air NREL and Conserval jointly developed the transpired solar collector for ventilation preheating in commercial buildings.

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    Paving the way for the first U. Cracking the code: advancing high-performance home design The key to high-performance homes that pencil out is to identify the ideal mix of energy efficiency improvements that deliver the highest impact at the lowest cost. Mirror, mirror: silvered plastic saves weight NREL collaborated with SkyFuel to develop an innovative mirror-like material consisting of polymer sheets incorporating very thin silver layers. Better batteries add brawn to electric vehicles While electric vehicles EVs promise to curb greenhouse gas emissions and slash America's need for imported oil, the design of high-performance, cost-effective, and safe batteries has proven challenging.

    The butterfly effect at wind farm scales If the flap of an insect wing creates a wake, then imagine the dynamics taking place at a wind farm.

    Energy 101: Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings

    Charting efficiency: 41 years of PV record setters It has become a solar industry icon: the colorful, chaotic PV conversion efficiencies chart, originally conceived by Dr. Know 'em before you build 'em with modeling Those developing new renewable energy projects need accurate estimates of the physical and financial performance of proposed projects well before the first shovel hits the dirt. NREL code causes waves within emerging wave energy conversion industry The hottest tool rising to the surface in the up-and-coming marine and hydrokinetic community industry is the result of a partnership between NREL and Sandia National Laboratories.

    Resilient power: NREL demos mission-critical microgrid When a military installation loses power, operations come to a standstill, missions are cancelled, and national security is compromised.

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    Core potential: lignin proving its worth Lignin provides stability to plant cell walls but is seen as a hindrance and waste product in biomass conversion to biofuels. Trucking smart: cutting fuel use and operating costs Ever in pursuit of a competitive edge, the trucking industry is exploring innovative ways to cut fuel use and operating costs.

    Super cool: supercomputer's efficiency chills competition NREL teamed with Hewlett-Packard HP and Intel to develop the innovative warm-water, liquid-cooled Peregrine supercomputer, which not only operates efficiently but also serves as the primary source of building heat for NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility offices and laboratories.

    A switch…for the sun With the flip of a switch, a tiny flow of electricity can change the tint of your windows. Cocktail hour: enzyme shakes up biofuels Converting cellulose from non-food plants to the sugars that are fermented for biofuels requires powerful, yet affordable, cellulase enzymes. We made geothermal steam cleaner It's super clean, but there's also an eww factor to geothermal energy. Award-winning innovation: blazing the trail to net-zero Federal leadership is key to providing an impetus for the nation to realize the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of greater energy efficiency.

    We have high standards…for solar panels As a customer, you want your solar panels to work as advertised. Boosting the wind to sustain an industry Since the inception of the commercial wind industry in the s, NREL has collaborated with turbine manufacturers to develop many of the technology innovations that enabled the success of the industry today.