Client Stories – NREL
By Kim Adams, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
I’m honored to be one of the first guests on the Fireside blog! I work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). As the name implies, we are a national laboratory and we work on clean energy solutions for the nation. We do the whole spectrum—from basic science through commercialization and deployment.
You might’ve seen us if you live near Denver. We are that group of kind of funny-looking (in a good way!) buildings on the north side of I-70 before you really start the ascent into the mountains. No, not Colorado Mills (that’s the other side of I-70). Our newest building is the multiple-award winning, LEED-Platinum, only-one-of-its-kind-in-the-world Research Support Facility. Come visit and see what the future of commercial building design looks like (the future is here now!). And no, it wasn’t any more expensive to build than a regular office building.
But, I digress.
NREL (first as the Solar Energy Research Institute) has been up here for over three decades. The innovation that takes place in our laboratories is truly amazing. I was lucky enough to be on a video shoot with Tom and Naomi last week. We interviewed about a dozen NREL staff, mainly scientists. I am probably a bit of a science geek, but getting out of my normal corporate role (I’ve done corporate communications work at NREL for the past 12 years) and “back to the science” is always a grounding, semi-transformational experience for me.
To be welcomed into an active scientific laboratory, where game-changing science is taking place (right that minute!) renews my appreciation for just how difficult, yet exciting, it is to solve some of the most vexing energy challenges that face us. It also reminds me how important it is to continue the work we do. Without it, achieving an energy future where energy is clean, abundant, and available to all (particularly those in developing nations who so desperately need it) will continue to elude us.
At the point we are in history – and with all the strides we’ve made toward achieving a clean energy future – now is NOT the time to slow our ascent (although it’s sometimes easier to just keep hiking along on the same, well trodden path). We must forge ahead—and the quicker the better. Clean energy will help stem our addiction to oil, create jobs and will ensure we provide a healthy planet to our grandchildren.
We were struck by a comment made by a pretty awesome solar scientist last week. It was a famous science quote having to do with standing on the shoulders of giants. You know the one.
American scientific innovation has saved lives, solved unsolvable problems, landed us on the moon. To teeter, even for a brief moment, on the shoulders of our own giants up here (even if they would never consider themselves such) is an honor.
Hop on up. From here you really can see the stars.