GOLDEN – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is marking its 35th anniversary this year, and nothing could highlight that milestone better than news this week that NREL has joined the newly-formed Global Alliance of Solar Energy Research Institutes.
NREL is America’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed July 10 during the opening session of Intersolar North America in San Francisco, NREL joined with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems and Japan’s Research Center for Photovoltaic Technologies to collaborate and accelerate progress in solar energy research.
The move comes at a particularly opportune time. Solar energy research goes on every day to help make it a more viable alternative to finite conventional energies that cause pollution and contribute to global warming.
But the U.S. solar industry is suffering from fierce competition from other nations, particularly China.
That competition has resulted in sharply lowered prices for U.S.-made solar panels, and what had been one local solar success story – Abound Solar in Loveland – went sour June 28 when Abound announced it was shutting down operations, putting 125 employees out of work.
In early July, GE announced it was postponing construction of a solar panel plant in Aurora for up to 18 months because of the depressed U.S. solar market.
That action put on hold the hiring of 335 Coloradans who desperately need jobs.
It’s a similar story across the U.S. for an industry still struggling to find its footing.
But this week’s NREL announcement casts a ray of sunshine on the future of solar.
Joining with two of the world’s most prestigious solar research institutions in furthering solar as a jobs-creating industry and an energy alterative in a world increasingly worried about global climate change is good news for Colorado and the solar energy industry.
We hope the Global Alliance can produce the kind of progress needed to reach solar energy’s full potential.