HG: SustainAbility Column December 27, 2008

In the laboratory

In spite of some prevalent local attitudes, Colorado takes pride in being on the cutting edge of the New Energy Economy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden is one excellent example.

According to its Web site, http://www.nrel.gov, it is “the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.”

In 1977, the lab began operations as the Solar Energy Research Institute before being designated a national lab of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1991 and changing its name.

The laboratory relies heavily on research and technology development to help meet our
energy needs. This includes lots of research into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

One project involved a 2006 Prius, souped-up with a plug-in conversion and inlaid solar roof panels. The vehicle got 100 miles per gallon, but would cost $70,000 to duplicate.

The lab’s mission extends to all areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“NREL researchers are promoting development of ‘renewable communities’ that would unite plug-in hybrids, zero-energy homes, and the full range of NREL-developed renewable energy technologies as a model for the future,” the Web site said.

To see a 2006 Power Point presentation on PHEVs made by the laboratory, go to http://www.colorado.edu/MCEN/SustainableEnergy/Documents/StudentResources/PHEV_CU_lecture.ppt.

— Adele Israel


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