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New energy systems enhance national security

DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory : 14 March, 2002  (New Product)
Experts from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified key renewable energy technologies that can be used to strengthen U.S. energy security.
'Renewable energy technologies offer the nation powerful tools for enhancing homeland security,' NREL Director Richard Truly said today at the National Press Club.

More broadly, Truly said, the growing energy contributions made by wind, biomass, geothermal and solar can be especially useful in helping offset our nation's reliance on foreign energy sources, thereby bolstering U.S. energy security.

'Renewable energy technologies, particularly when deployed as a distributed energy resource, can play a vital role in securing our energy infrastructure,' Truly said at a Press Club news conference. 'The more energy efficient we are, the more energy we get from sustainable, domestic resources, the less pressure we have on our energy infrastructure and the less vulnerable we are to disruption.'

A complete text of Truly's remarks can be found online at

NREL was one of several national labs to participate in a recent exposition in Washington, D.C., titled, 'Assuring Our Energy Infrastructure: Solutions for the 21st Century.' The lab's participation in the exposition showcased technologies that NREL researchers have identified as valuable to national security. Those include:

Wind power and solar-electric systems that provide emergency back-up power in the event of a disruption of central power supplies.

Small modular biopower systems that use locally abundant resources and easily be deployed on a trailer.

Distributed generation technologies that reduce dependence on mega-power plants by locating generation capacity close to where it is used making the electricity system less vulnerable to major disruptions.

Wind and solar photovoltaic systems that operate independently of the utility grid to deliver dependable power to critical monitoring and security functions, such as chemical and radiation detection devices and surveillance cameras.

High performance buildings designed to use less than half the energy of conventional structures that significantly reduce overall energy demands and function during power outages

In addition, the lab has identified tools and facilities suited to meeting energy security needs:

HOMER, software developed by NREL, can compare multiple power-generation options and design the most secure and cost-effective system to meet almost any specific need.

Liquid desiccant airflow systems developed by NREL can be used to remove and neutralize airborne biohazards, and could be particularly suited for potentially high-risk buildings such as mail handling facilities.

A variety of test facilities are readily available to test energy systems to be used in homeland security applications.

'We can safeguard our energy supply,' Truly said, 'but it's going to take commitment and hard work to arrive at a secure, domestic energy destination. NREL scientists and engineers started that journey 25 years ago. Today, we renew our commitment to a future of secure, reliable, never-ending sources of energy.'
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