National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Title National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Format Website


Established in 1974, NREL began operating in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute. Under the Carter administration, it was the recipient of a rather large budget and its activities went beyond research and development in solar energy as it tried to popularize knowledge about already existing technologies, like passive solar amongst the population. In the Reagan years that followed the budget was cut by some 90%, many people 'reduced in force' and the activities reduced to R&D. In later years renewed interest in the energy problem improved the institute's position. But funding has fluctuated. In 2006 its funding had dropped to the point it was forced to lay off 32 workers. It was designated a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in September 1991 and its name changed to NREL. Since its inception it has been operated under contract by the Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Missouri.

NREL is the principal research laboratory for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) which provides the majority of its funding. Other funding comes from DOE's Office of Science and Office of Electricity Transmission and Distribution.

NREL's areas of research and development expertise are:
Renewable electricity
Renewable fuels
Integrated energy systems
Strategic energy analysis



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