This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
NREL Marks Its 25th Anniversary by Building Energy-Efficient Home
DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 18th. The laboratory was launched in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI); in 1991, President George H. W. Bush designated the facility a DOE national laboratory, and SERI became NREL. NREL is now a leading research facility for wind, solar, and biomass power; biofuels; geothermal energy; hydrogen; fuel cells; distributed power; hybrid vehicles; advanced vehicle design; fuels utilization and building energy technologies.
When SERI was launched in 1977, solar-derived electricity cost several dollars per kilowatt-hour, and wind power cost about 40 cents per kilowatt-hour. Today's solar energy systems yield electricity costs of 20 to 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, and wind power costs about 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Wind power is now the fastest-growing source of energy in the world.
In honor of the anniversary, NREL is helping to build an energy-efficient Habitat for Humanity home in the Denver area. The home's energy efficiency features include a sun-tempered living and dining area, advanced windows, sprayed-foam wall insulation, enhanced floor insulation, solar hot water, a grid-tied solar power system, and energy-efficient appliances. Employees from NREL, the DOE Golden Field Office, and DOE's Denver Regional Office have committed to donate 3,000 volunteer hours in designing and building the home, and NREL's managing partners-Midwest Research Institute, Battelle, and Bechtel-are sponsoring the home's construction by providing the $50,000 sponsorship fee. AstroPower, Inc. is donating a 1.6-kilowatt solar electric system for the house. See the DOE and AstroPower press releases.
NREL isn't just resting on its laurels: the laboratory dedicated a new research facility last week that will develop cleaner fuels for trucks and buses. The new Renewable Fuels and Lubricants Research Laboratory (ReFUEL) is housed at the Regional Transportation District Bus Maintenance Facility in Denver and includes one of only six heavy-duty chassis dynamometer emissions laboratories in the nation. See the announcement in "Transportation Times," a publication of NREL's Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems.