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The Lead

Low-cost Solar through Fast Production

August 26, 2014 10:41 am | Award Winners

Crystalline silicon has continued to lead the market in the worldwide adoption of solar energy with over 85% market share. Much of this growth has happened in the past few years. Photovoltaic modules have dropped in price to below $1/W due to massive vertical integration largely driven by Chinese manufacturers. However, the cost to manufacture panels has not scaled down, resulting in losses for manufacturers. Crystal Solar Inc.’s Direct Gas to Wafer Epitaxial System, developed with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is designed to help reduce these costs by increasing throughput.

Process helps overcome obstacles to produce renewable fuels, chemicals

August 26, 2014 7:44 am | by National Renewable Energy Laboratory | News | Comments

There’s an old saying in the biofuels industry: “You can make anything from lignin except money...

Water-cooled Perfection

August 20, 2014 4:47 pm | Award Winners

Hewlett-Packard and National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s...

Integration Realized

June 4, 2014 3:43 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

Today’s smartphone is a complicated power device, using a small lithium-ion battery of about 1,...

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Study indicates improvements needed in handling methane emissions

February 19, 2014 7:23 am | News | Comments

A new study led by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis says that the total impact of switching to natural gas depends heavily on leakage of methane during the natural gas life cycle, and suggests that more can be done to reduce methane emissions and to improve measurement tools which help inform policy choices.

NREL report finds similar value in two concentrating solar technologies

February 12, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

Parabolic troughs and dry-cooled towers deliver similar value for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, despite different solar profiles, a new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found. The report found that the value of delivered energy of dry-cooled tower and parabolic trough CSP plants, integrated with thermal energy storage, are quite similar.

Study: Active power control of wind turbines can improve power grid reliability

January 28, 2014 1:51 pm | News | Comments

Wind energy experts have completed a comprehensive study to understand how wind power technology can assist the power grid by controlling the active power output being placed onto the system. They find that wind power can do this by adjusting its power output to enhance system reliability, using forms of active power control such as synthetic inertial control, primary frequency control and automatic generation control regulation.

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Efficient PV, Low Cost

August 28, 2013 10:58 am | Award Winners

The photovoltaic industry is particularly sensitive to cost, and while pushing the envelope on conversion efficiency is a priority, efforts to reduce manufacturing costs is also a priority. Toward this end, TetraSun Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed TetraCell solar cells, which offer a bifacial, high-efficiency ($3.09 per Watt-peak) solution for photovoltaic applications.

Study suggests costs gap for western renewables could narrow by 2025

August 28, 2013 9:06 am | News | Comments

A new Department of Energy study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that by 2025 wind and solar power electricity generation in the western U.S. could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies, if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations. The report is now available.

Battery Temperature Control

August 28, 2013 8:34 am | Award Winners

Understanding and controlling temperature is necessary for the successful operation of battery packs in electric-drive vehicles (EDVs). Isothermal Battery Calorimeters (IBCs), developed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory and NETZSCH North America, are the only calorimeters that can accurately measure heat generated from batteries used in EDVs—with a baseline sensitivity of 10 mW and heat detection as low as 15 J—while being charged and/or discharged.

A New Sense of Occupancy

August 28, 2013 8:19 am | Award Winners

Today, lighting represents the single largest source electric load in U.S. commercial buildings, amounting to 38% of total electricity. Occupancy detection can help reduce consumption by controlling lighting automatically. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s low-cost Image-Processing Occupancy Sensor (IPOS) detectors offer an improvement on traditional motion-sensing technology by detecting and assessing human occupancy or vacancy in an area to localize and optimize lighting, daylighting and HVAC.

Scientists find asymmetry in topological insulators

August 14, 2013 9:29 am | News | Comments

New research shows that a class of materials being eyed for the next generation of computers behaves asymmetrically at the sub-atomic level. This research is a key step toward understanding the topological insulators that may have the potential to be the building blocks of a super-fast quantum computer that could run on almost no electricity.

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DOE invests to save small buildings money by saving energy

July 24, 2013 12:03 pm | News | Comments

Building on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for steady, responsible steps to reduce carbon pollution and reduce energy bills for U.S. businesses, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced an award of $10 million for six projects to help small commercial buildings save money by saving energy.

NREL research earns three prestigious R&D 100 Awards

July 10, 2013 9:52 am | News | Comments

A new energy-efficient approach to building occupancy detection, a better way to detect heat loss in electric-vehicle batteries and a high-efficiency silicon solar cell—all developed or advanced at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—have been named among this year’s most significant innovations by R&D Magazine.

NREL reports record efficiency for a two-junction solar cell

June 25, 2013 1:21 pm | News | Comments

At the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Fla. last week, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Myles Steiner announced a world record of 31.1% conversion efficiency for a two-junction solar cell under one sun of illumination. The achievement edges the previous record of 30.8% by Alta Devices.

Researchers add eyes, brains to occupancy detection

June 5, 2013 8:36 am | News | Comments

It's a gnawing frustration of modern office life. You're sitting quietly—too quietly—in an office or carrel, and suddenly the lights go off. The U.S. Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed and made available for license the Image Processing Occupancy Sensor, which combines an inexpensive camera and computer vision algorithms that can recognize the presence of human occupants.

Study reveals potential for deep cuts to petroleum use, emissions

March 19, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory this week announced the release of the Transportation Energy Futures study, an assessment of avenues to reach deep cuts in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The project suggests opportunities for 80% reductions by 2050

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Researchers demonstrate quantum dots that assemble themselves

February 11, 2013 10:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other labs have demonstrated a process whereby quantum dots can self-assemble at the apex of a gallium arsenide-aluminum gallium arsenide core-shell nanowire interface. This activity at optimal locations in nanowires could improve solar cells, quantum computing, and lighting devices.

NREL launches interactive tool for developing a cleaner energy future

January 15, 2013 2:20 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has created an energy analysis tool to help individuals and educators experiment with future energy use scenarios. The interactive Buildings, Industry, Transportation, Electricity, and Transportation Scenarios (BITES) allows users to explore how changes in energy demand and supply can impact carbon dioxide emissions and the current U.S. energy trajectory.

A new point of reference for offshore energy development

January 8, 2013 12:32 pm | News | Comments

A new U.S. Department of Energy research facility could help bring the U.S. closer to generating power from the winds and waters along America's coasts and help alleviate a major hurdle for offshore wind and ocean power development.

NREL to help convert methane to liquid diesel

January 7, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will help develop microbes that convert methane found in natural gas into liquid diesel fuel, a novel approach that if successful could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower dependence on foreign oil.

R&D 100 award-winning PV cell pushes efficiency higher

December 30, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

It takes outside-the-box thinking to outsmart the solar spectrum and set a world record for solar cell efficiency. The solar spectrum has boundaries and immutable rules. No matter how much solar cell manufacturers want to bend those rules, they can't. So how can we make a solar cell that has a higher efficiency than the rules allow? NREL researchers know with the development of their SJ3 solar cell.

Researchers use imaging technologies to solve puzzle of plant architecture

November 28, 2012 8:26 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the BioEnergy Science Center combined different microscopic imaging methods to gain a greater understanding of the relationships between biomass cell wall structure and enzyme digestibility, a breakthrough that could lead to optimizing sugar yields and lowering the costs of making biofuels.

NREL nanotechnology solar cell achieves 18.2% efficiency

October 15, 2012 8:18 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have produced solar cells using nanotechnology techniques at an efficiency—18.2%—that is competitive. The breakthrough should be a step toward helping lower the cost of solar energy.

Producing ethylene via photosynthesis

September 26, 2012 5:01 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have demonstrated a better way to use photosynthesis to produce ethylene, a breakthrough that could change the way materials, chemicals, and transportation fuels are made, and help clean the air. The scientists introduced a gene into a cyanobacterium and demonstrated that the organism remained stable through a least four generations, producing ethylene gas that could be easily captured.

Microgrids: So much more than backup energy

August 27, 2012 12:12 pm | News | Comments

Most Americans don't have to think much about energy reliability. We plug in a computer and it powers up; we flip a switch and the lights come on. While very reliable today. the U.S. electricity grid is old and has gone at least five decades without a significant technological upgrade. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working with industry on one solution to help maintain a secure, reliable flow of energy: microgrids.

NREL study shows renewable energy potential in every state

August 2, 2012 5:35 am | News | Comments

A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, which looks at available renewable resources in each state and establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential.

Success Story: Innovation Speeds Solar Cell Tests

July 27, 2012 6:56 am | Articles | Comments

Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a way to assess the quality of solar cells at a speed that is orders-of-magnitude faster than previous methods.

NREL helps supersize butanol production

June 20, 2012 7:29 am | News | Comments

The idea of "supersizing" is no longer embraced when it comes to what we eat. But when it comes to creating renewable fuels, supersizing can be a very good thing. Recently, a team of scientists from Cobalt Technologies assembled at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to supersize their process for making renewable butanol.

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