INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES The second week of January 2013 found Ambassador John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, in Denver as part of a four city road show. Although the program’s primary focus was the new Boeing Dreamliner nonstop flights, departing respectively from Denver, Seattle, San Diego and San Jose to Tokyo, the opportunity to engage with the nation’s leaders in the field of renewable energy was too valuable to forgo for a man whose tenure has included a devastating tsunami that completely altered the energy infrastructure of the country in which he serves as plenipotentiary of the United States of America.
Thus, on a Tuesday afternoon in early January, Dr. Dan Arvizu, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), called to order a Renewable Energy Roundtable, including: Ambassador Roos; Consul Shunsuke Ono of the Consulate General of Japan in Denver; former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, now the Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University; Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory Director David Hiller; U.S. Department of Commerce Minister‐Counselor for Commercial Affairs Andrew Wylegala; and U.S. Department of Energy Attaché Jeff Miller, both of whom are stationed in Tokyo; along with several representatives from Colorado businesses, universities, and organizations that are working within the renewable energy arena in Japan. The roundtable was an open dialogue of information exchange, with the embassy representatives presenting their perspectives on the current needs of the Japanese energy industry, Consul Ono providing his view on the Japanese people’s level of acceptance of renewable energy, and NREL and the industry representatives suggesting possible solutions to the energy crisis that is a result of the widespread nuclear shutdown in Japan.
Bilateral cooperation with Japan is not new to NREL. In fact, NREL works with a wide range of Japanese institutions on technologies to advance concentrating solar power and is collaborating on activities related to vehicles and hydrogen fuel, climate technology centers, policy best practices, field-testing of manufacturers' modular systems, bio-molecular design software, fuel cell membranes, solar resource modeling, biofuels adoption, platinum catalyst formulation, grid integration and biofuels emissions controls development. The laboratory engages in bilateral partnerships with more than 50 countries that span the globe to advance development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. NREL also plays a leading role in supporting several multilateral initiatives designed to advance the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in ways that both increase economic development and address global challenges such as climate change and energy security. In a recent interview, Dr. John Barnett, NREL’s International Program Manager, summarized some of the key global partnerships currently developing at the laboratory.
NREL is collaborating with the government of India on a variety of initiatives to reduce market barriers that deter investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. NREL experts are analyzing the impacts of increasing the amount of photovoltaics on the grid in the state of Gujarat, comparing scenarios with the photovoltaics plants distributed in different locations across the state. National solar resource data is being refined to include satellite data on aerosols, particles that reduce the Direct Normal Insolation and reduce the efficiency of concentrating solar plants. NREL is also conducting two studies of wind resource data in the states of Uttarakhand and Gujarat to improve the understanding of how complex terrain impacts wind resources in India. In partnership with India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, NREL is leading the development of an online, public database of all clean energy policies, regulations and incentives offered by the state and central governments. These projects are funded by the U.S. Departments of Energy and State.
Mexico is entering its second year of cooperation with the U.S. government in the program “Enhancing Capacity for Low-Emissions Development Strategies” (EC-LEDS). This USAID-funded effort, involving countries around the world, focuses on enhancing the capacity of interested developing countries to plan for and implement low-carbon-emission economic growth. NREL staff, as part of a U.S. government team, is working with Mexico’s Low Emissions Development Strategy Team (MLED) on clean energy activities including project finance training and a roadmap for a comprehensive energy integration study. NREL also continues to work with USDA and La Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA) to explore possible areas of cooperation including, as one example, in the field of bioenergy.
NREL is supporting the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Compact with Indonesia, which will invest over $200 million in rural renewable energy, natural resources management and sustainable land use projects. The focus of NREL’s work is to develop a screening process with criteria covering technological, economic, environmental and social requirements identified in the Compact and established in MCC’s corporate practice. NREL is also developing a set of eight pre-feasibility studies of selected projects to demonstrate how the many criteria can be met for diverse project types. Eligible energy projects may include small-scale hydropower, solar photovoltaics, biomass, and household biogas systems. NREL’s work will help build the independent capacity of the Indonesian organization set up to identify, screen and fund proposed projects.
In Eastern Africa, NREL is providing technical assistance for a USAID project with the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) to support regional energy (RE) planning efforts. The project includes activities focusing on a database to support RE project planning; increasing the capacity of EAPP stakeholders to prioritize RE projects based on technical, economic, social and market considerations; and supporting EAPP stakeholders increase their capacity to assess the feasibility of proposed projects with sufficient rigor to attract further financing from donors or the private sector to complete full project feasibility studies.
Thus, the U.S.– Japan Renewable Energy Roundtable that brought together representatives of the Japanese government, representatives from the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy, as well as energy industry leaders from educational institutions and the private sector was an accurate snapshot of the first step in the collaborative efforts that NREL staff put forth every day to formulate solutions to global energy challenges.
To learn more about becoming engaged in international activities at NREL, access, http://www.nrel.gov/international or contact Dr. John Barnett, NREL International Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.