The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Renewable Energy Lab is at the forefront of change in the nation’s energy resources sector. Its R&D and public-private partnership programs run the gamut of emerging new renewable energy and clean technology, enabling the crucial transition from “bleeding edge” to “leading edge” to take place. Its outreach efforts, meanwhile, are catalysts for the adoption of comprehensive, long-term climate change strategies in both the private and public sectors.
On Tuesday at the EPA’s Climate Leaders meeting in Boulder, Colo., NREL committed itself to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 75% between 2005 and 2009. Two new renewable energy projects are expected to go a good way towards achieving its goal: a five-acre solar cell array will provide some 7% of the Lab’s electricity needs while a biomass combustion plant using forest thinnings as fuel stock will replace 75% of the natural gas currently used to heat the Lab’s research buildings.
The initiative also entails purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates, which will be purchased to offset the indirect emissions generated as a result of using electricity from non-renewable sources, as well as from Lab operations such as employee commuting and business travel.
From Drawing Board to Real World
“NREL places tremendous importance on the need to maintain a sustainable environment in our own workplace. We believe that our Laboratory should use minimal resources while receiving the maximum value from those resources we do use by balancing environmental, economic, and human impacts,” Bob Westby, manager of NREL’s Federal Energy Management Program and Sustainable NREL lead, said in a media release.
Partnering with a diverse range of private sector companies and investors the Dept. of Energy and NREL are playing a pivotal role in the research, development and commercialization of a diversity of promising alternative energy and clean technologies.
“Our office houses a Commercialization Team, which is focused on helping technology move from DoE’s National Laboratories to the market place. DoE recently announced its ‚ÄòEntrepreneur in Residence Program’, which will bring private investor into the National Labs to help devise strategies for full commercialization. This team also convened a ‚ÄòVenture Capital Showcase’ this past summer, wherein venture capital firms attended briefings on DOE technologies that are ready and available for license,” elaborated DoE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy spokesperson Kevin Brosnahan.
Through the government-industry Climate Leaders program the EPA works with partners to develop comprehensive climate change strategies. Partners employ a quality management system to carry out a corporate-wide inventory of their GHG emissions and commit to reduce them. Aggressive goals are set and annual progress reports are submitted to the EPA, thereby establishing a credible record of accomplishment. They may also be recognized by the EPA as corporate environmental leaders.