The next two stops on the Carbon-Free Mobility Magical Mystery Tours series were to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)! Both times tour groups met near Pedestrian Shops on Pearl St. in Boulder and carpooled to the tours in a hybrid E450 shuttle. Ford praises alternative-power options like Lightning Hybrids Energy Recovery System (ERS), which is outfitted in the E450, saving fuel and reducing emissions.
NREL’s wind energy activities at its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), located on the Flatirons Campus, has pioneered wind turbine components, systems, and modeling methods that have driven the industry’s acceleration over the past 40 years.
One example our groups learned about was NREL’s Simulator for Wind Farm Applications (SOWFA). This state-of-the-art wind farm simulator uses fluid dynamics to investigate wind power plant performance under different environmental conditions. The tool allows wind power plant designers to maximize turbine performance, increasing the overall wind power plant output by 4% to 5%.
NREL’s researches work with the U.S. Department of Energy, universities, and other agencies to assist in managing wind grid system integration. Consider NREL’s Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit, a quality data set for grid integration studies. The WIND Toolkit includes wind turbine evaluations for more than 126,000 sites in the U.S. from 2007 to 2013. Like SOWFA, it is used to help maximize the performance of U.S. wind turbines.
NREL also partners with Via Mobility Services in the development of an innovative pilot to test a more efficient way of providing trips to older adults and people with disabilities. The Carbon-Free Mobility Magical Mystery Tours’ sponsor, Pedestrian Shops, also supports the pilot and helped Via establish a Technology Fund to support Via’s green transportation goals.