Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the expansion of its research capabilities in harsh climates through a collaboration with Alaska’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). CCHRC staff will become NREL employees through this expanded partnership.
Based in Fairbanks, Alaska, CCHRC’s mission is to promote and advance the development of healthy, durable, and sustainable homes for Alaskans and other circumpolar people who live in some of the harshest conditions on earth. NREL, located in Golden, Colorado, is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The collaboration leverages the complementary research capabilities of the two organizations, including in buildings use, building energy system integration, and energy technology design and deployment in extreme and rural environments.
“Through this collaboration with CCHRC and NREL, the Department of Energy has an opportunity to study and understand the unique requirements of energy infrastructure and environments of the Arctic,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “As an Arctic nation, the U.S. is poised to leverage the strengths of these organizations to generate the ideas and innovation we need to advance resilient, reliable, and affordable energy solutions for people living in circumpolar regions and beyond.”
The Arctic environment, with its high cost of energy in remote communities and challenging climate, provides a strategic platform for NREL’s research into renewable power, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and energy systems integration. With access to research resources in the circumpolar region, DOE will be able to test and validate a wide range of technologies in extreme climate conditions, improving the accessibility, reliability, and resiliency of those technologies for Alaskan communities.
“Alaskans know that living in a cold climate takes ingenuity, determination, and collaboration,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I’m thrilled the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is teaming up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center to further their energy research and development efforts. The lessons and innovation that result will benefit Alaskans, who face the nation’s highest cost of energy, and all who live in circumpolar climates. I congratulate Jack Hebert, Bruno Grunau, Dr. Martin Keller, and everyone else who helped form this partnership, and can’t wait to see the good work that comes from it.”
“America is an Arctic nation because of Alaska, and, as Alaskans know, building our homes, heating them, and producing efficient and lower-cost power are key to survival and future development in this critical region,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “I’m glad the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is partnering with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center to further the research of innovative technology solutions to meet the challenges we face in the Arctic and other extreme environments. This partnership will hopefully yield fruitful research that benefits not just Alaskans, but all communities that face harsh environmental conditions to deliver efficient and cost-effective housing and energy.”
“Alaska’s climate is unlike any other in our nation, making our state a critical hub for research on sustainability in harsh environments,” said U.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “I have been a long-time supporter of Alaska’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center, and have seen their important work for resilient housing first-hand. Having lived around the Arctic Circle, I can tell you first hand that innovation is key for survival in challenging areas. This new partnership with the Department of Energy is welcome news not only for those living in brutally cold areas, but also for the effective production of energy across our great nation.”
The collaboration furthers DOE’s overarching mission related to the Arctic, which is coordinated by DOE’s newly reestablished Arctic Energy Office. As a National Laboratory, NREL is managed for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and supports the objectives and programs of many DOE program offices, including the Arctic Energy Office. NREL’s current and future activities in Alaska, and those related to Arctic activities, will coordinate through EERE, creating a mutually beneficial relationship for NREL, DOE, and the State of Alaska.