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Secretary Bodman Opens New Science and Technology Facility at NREL & Touts 121,000 Jobs Created Nationwide in June

July 7, 2006 - 2:54pm


GOLDEN, CO - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today cut the ribbon to officially open the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Science & Technology Facility (S&TF), in Golden, Colorado.  This 71,000-squarefoot, $22.6-million, state-of-the-art facility is designed to help accelerate the development and commercialization of promising new energy technologies, particularly in solar and hydrogen and building-related energy technologies. 

"NREL is a world leader in developing important energy resources that will help power our nation's growing economy for generations to come," Secretary Bodman said.  "This new Science and Technology Facility will enable government and industry to work side by side to accelerate the scientific discovery and marketability of new, clean and renewable energy sources that will help strengthen our nation's energy security."

Secretary Bodman was joined by DOE Under Secretary David K. Garman to tout the 121,000 jobs created nationwide in June, and to tour the new facility.  The advanced research that will be conducted at S&FT will directly contribute to achieving the goals outlined in President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI), which provides a 22-percent increase in clean energy research at DOE and seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources by changing the way we power our cars, homes and businesses.

The S&TF will play an important role in achieving the goals of the Solar America Initiative (SAI), an integral part of the President's Advanced Energy Initiative.  The SAI aims to bring down the cost of solar energy systems to make them competitive with conventional electricity sources in the U.S. by 2015, leading to substantial increase in domestic-installed solar electricity generating capacity. 

A major component of the facility is the 11,500-sq-ft Process Development and Integration Laboratory, which will allow NREL researchers, working in coordination with industry, to develop new manufacturing processes.  This will allow industry representatives and researchers to work side-by-side to reduce the time it takes to move new technologies from the laboratory bench to commercial manufacturing.  Specifically, researchers will be able to address complex manufacturing issues for the next generation of renewable energy technologies in electricity from solar cells, hydrogen fuel cells and distributed energy.

Ground was broken for the S&TF in July 2004, and construction, headed by M.A. Mortenson Company, began in February 2005.  The S&TF features space for 75 full time researchers.

Secretary Bodman's also highlighted DOE's recently announced $170-million, three-year, solicitation  (FY '07-'09) for cost-shared, public-private partnerships to advance solar energy technology.  The solicitation will focus on building partnerships for development, testing, demonstration, validation, and deployment of new photovoltaic (PV) components, systems and manufacturing equipment.  PV materials are semiconductors that convert sunlight directly into electricity.  DOE is requesting proposals from industry-led teams, which may include one or more companies, universities, national laboratories, and/or non-governmental organizations.  Because DOE is requiring that the industry-led teams match their awards dollar for dollar, a total investment of $340 million will be realized when the private cost share is included.

Secretary Bodman also discussed the overall health of the U.S. economy, underscored by employment figures released today.  In addition to touting the 121,000 jobs created nationwide last month, the Secretary discussed the positive impacts research and development can have on strengthening America's energy and economic security.  The unemployment rate is 4.6 percent, the lowest than the average of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.  The economy has created about 1.85 million jobs over the past 12 months, and more than 5.4 million since August 2003.  These figures indicate that the American economy is strong by almost any measure. 

NREL is the nation's primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D.  Established in 1974, NREL began operating in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute.  It was designated a national laboratory of DOE in September 1991 and its name changed to NREL.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940