The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has announced the signing of two memorandums of understanding in the past two days that will foster the development of renewable energy resources and reduce dependence on oil and fossil fuels.
NREL is entering into public-private partnerships with UPC Wind to establish a Remote Research Affiliate Partner Site at the company’s Kaheawa Wind Farm on Maui, the first of its kind for the NREL outside its home base in Colorado.
NREL is also moving forward on the biomass front. Bringing together three independently established programs, NREL on March 31 announced the signing an MoU with ConocoPhillips and Iowa State University to conduct near, mid- and long-term studies aimed at identifying promising cellulosic biomass conversion technologies.
NREL’s MoU with UPC gives a boost to the state’s Clean Energy Initiative, which, in partnership with the Dept. of Energy, is shooting for meeting 70% of Hawaii’s energy needs from clean, renewable sources.
R&D on advanced wind energy technologies will be conducted by NREL and UPC at the latter’s Kaheawa wind farm on Maui with a goal of maximizing the integration of wind-generated electrical power into the island’s grid.
“Our Kaheawa Wind Farm is an ideal site to aggressively explore what can be done to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil,” UPC Wind Partners’ president and CEO Paul Gaynor said in a media release. “Gov. Lingle has made a concerted effort to encourage wind power development in Hawaii, as the state seeks to grow its energy independence. We’re looking forward to participating in this partnership to help develop new technologies that can grow the wind industry as the leading provider of renewable power in the country.”
Four technical working groups are focusing on what it will take to realize the ambitious goals set out in the state’s Clean Energy Initiative. A first round of work identifying barriers to the rapid adoption of clean, renewable energy resources relating to electricity generation, transmission and distribution, end user efficiency and transportation, including biofuels and advanced transportation technologies was recently completed.
“For Hawaii to achieve the bold 70 percent clean energy target in one generation, partnerships between the public and private sectors; among federal, state and local government entities and between research institutions and industry will be critical,” Governor Lingle added. “It will require a fundamental transformation in how Hawaii generates, transmits and uses energy.”
Biomass in Iowa
NREL’s MoU with ConocoPhillips and Iowa State aims to explore biomass-to-fuel conversion technologies that will employ gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation to convert cellulosic feedstock such as corn stalks, stems, leaves, other non-food agricultural residues, hardy grasses and fast-growing trees into a new generation of fuels for transportation.
“The thermo-chemical and biochemical conversion of cellulosic biomass into liquid fuels has great promise to be a clean and renewable source of energy that doesn’t compete with our food supply,” Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State, stated in a media release. “This research collaboration brings together the complementary strengths of a major energy company, a national energy laboratory and a land-grant university to advance these technologies and move them closer to the marketplace.”