DC power players celebrate NREL expansion efforts in Colorado
GOLDEN — Colorado was the epicenter of the United States’ renewable energy economy Monday as politicos from Washington, D.C. — including a sitting U.S. senator and a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet — descended on Golden to get a first-hand look at a series of expansion and improvement projects at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
NREL’s efforts, paid for in large part thanks to an injection of $150 million in federal infrastructure funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, will be focused on the agency’s campus in Golden, but, according to NREL director Martin Keller, will also include “significant investments” at the Flatirons campus just outside of Boulder.
“The president knows that our labs have a leading role in the goal to get to 100% renewable electricity,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said, “a leading role in our American competitiveness, a leading role in making the technologies that will power the future for this nation.”
The federal government’s investment of “$150 million makes a huge impact on this laboratory.”
The three major projects underway at NREL’s Golden campus are:
- Research and Innovation Laboratory, or RAIL, is a 15,000-square-foot building that “will be a flexible, multipurpose lab space that supports cross-disciplinary research in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies,” the agency said. Research projects at RAIL will include the development of new ways of recycling plastics into high-value materials and energy sources.
- Global Energy Park, or Glo Park, aims to become “the epicenter of collaboration among industry, government, and academia to research and create global renewable energy and decarbonization technologies.” The park will include an outdoor plaza dedicated to educating the public about renewable energy technologies.
- South Table Mountain Energy Park, or STEP, will be built on the grounds of Camp George West, a former military base purchased this year by DOE. STEP “will be a hub for startups, entrepreneurs, and new innovations to help move the latest research and products closer to commercialization.”
“We’re going to all have to stretch if we’re going to be successful and move forward, push our way up and deal with these problems,” said U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado). “I’ve never been more optimistic in my life than right now that we have the right energy sources, vision and will.”