When I was in grad school in Boulder, one of the highlights of the science writing class was a tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. We got to inhale the brewery-like odors of the corn-stover-to-ethanol bioreactors, watch the next generation of triple-junction silicon solar cells growing in a vacuum chamber, and pace off the length of a 150-foot fiberglass wind turbine blade undergoing stress testing.
Some years later I got to tour NREL’s new Research Support Facility, a 360,000 square-foot LEED Platinum office building that produces more energy than it uses – and came in at a cost below that of comparable conventional-construction buildings in the Denver area. The breakthrough concepts embodied in this building, from the transpired solar thermal wall to the light-ducting venetian blinds, can be replicated easily in any climate.
At WREF 2012, you too have a chance to see NREL’s laboratories and operations. Two tours are offered: the main NREL campus on Friday morning, May 18, and the National Wind Technology Center that afternoon. Here are the details:
May 18, 2012, 9 a.m. – Noon: Tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colo. (Board bus at the Colorado Convention Center at 8:30 a.m., return to the Colorado Convention Center at12:30 p.m.) NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. This tour features NREL’s South Table Mountain research campus. Tour stops will include the ultra-high efficient Research Support Facility, the Science & Technology Facility and Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility.
May 18, 2012, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Tour of NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, Boulder, Colo.
(Board bus at the Colorado Convention Center) at 1:30 p.m., return to the Colorado Convention Center at 4:30 p.m.)
For both tours:
These are walking tours: Wear comfortable shoes.
The tours cost $50 each, as an add-on to WREF registration (they can be added to any single-day or full-conference purchase). The $50 includes round trip bus transportation from the Colorado Convention Center to the tour site. Restrictions may apply.
Register today for the World Renewable Energy Forum, at WREF2012.org.