How the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Jumpstarts Clean Energy Projects

Located in Colorado, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) can help advance the clean energy economy, according to a talk given by Robert Springer of NREL at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo in Honolulu. NREL is actually run by a private company, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. To advance clean energy, Mr. Springer said, NREL is “open for business.”

Mr. Springer joked that he gets some of the benefits of a federal employee–good insurance and slightly cheaper hotel rates–but at the end of the day, he’s a private employee. That said, much of the funding for the company comes from the Department of Energy. NREL has 2500 people, mostly doing R&D, applied research, testing, scaling, and demonstrations. They work to help accelerate the next generation of technologies and maximize the market adoption of these technologies (commercialization and deployment).

NREL itself does not invest money, but is a conduit. Their program at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) helps with technology testing/verification, cooperative development agreements (R&D), education for entrepreneurship and finance, industry growth forum with VCs and project investors, and NCAP, which is 40 hours of free expertise from NREL. The contact, for interested parties, is Richard.Adams [at] nrel.gov, or 303-275-3051. Something along the order of $4B in match-made investment has flowed through this program since 2003.

NREL can also work directly with private companies. Mr. Springer works in their Project Development and Finance division is a conduit to project development services, feasibility studies, portfolio analyses and advisory on markets and project performance.

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Scott Cooney is the developer of a new Triple Bottom Line, Monopoly-esque board game, and the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill).

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Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.